5 Things I Can’t Afford to Try on Social Media in March

Although I have made some good friends via social media and it does provide a way to stay in touch with old friends or relatives who live far away, social media stresses me out. If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you already know that.

I just want to sit at my computer and write, but the publishing world tells me that I have to have a brand and I must keep my brand in front of my potential readers. I’m being told this is important before I even try to get my first novel published. It’s exhausting!

In an effort to simplify social media for myself, I have looked into a number of websites that offer to do just that. There is an old adage that says, “You get what you pay for.” If I were independently wealthy, I could purchase all kinds of services that promise to put my social media life on Easy Street. That is not the case, though. If I had a multi-million dollar business, these services might make sense. They would be business expenses. I don’t make enough money from my writing yet to need big tax write-offs.

Below, I’ve listed what I found out about five social media services that I can’t afford to try. Just because I can’t afford them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. I’m not endorsing any of them, but I’m not trying to denigrate any of them either. Each Tweeter and blogger must decide for himself because each person’s situation is unique.

  1. Tweepi

The Ultimate Guide to Generating Leads on Twitter, a downloadable document by Steve Arnold, (steve.arnold@markethub.io) recommends Tweepi to, among other things, keep up with which of your followers are actually looking at your content. This allows you to drop followers that are just boosting your followers count. They aren’t interacting or helping you and you aren’t helping them. Unfortunately, the cheaper of the two plans Tweepi offers is $10.75 per month when paid annually or $12.99 per month when paid monthly. I can’t afford that, even though I recognize it would be somewhat beneficial to subscribe to a service like Tweepi.

My conclusion:  My world does not revolve around Twitter. I’m sure some of my “followers” are no longer “following” me. If they aren’t interested in books, writing, or an occasional political Tweet from me, that’s okay. I understand that literary agents and book publishers may want to have a clear idea of how many interested followers I have on Twitter, but it’s just not important enough to me right now to pay to get that information. It’s something to reconsider when I’m closer to getting a novel published.

  1. MarketHub

Mr. Arnold, of course, recommends that bloggers use MarketHub, since he is the company’s founder. His downloadable referenced above under Tweepi, states, “MarketHub pumps out extremely high value curated tweets on your behalf.” MarketHub offers a 14-day free trial. I hesitate to sign up for free trials because sometimes they’re difficult to cancel before a subscription fee kicks in. I have no idea if that’s the case with MarketHub, and I haven’t been able to find out how much MarketHub charges after the free trial period.

My conclusion:  I don’t really want a computer somewhere writing Tweets for me. I’d rather do my own writing. Period.

  1. Commun.it

With a free account, Commun.it will send out automatic weekly “Thanks for following me” Tweets; however, those Tweets include a flashy advertisement for Commun.it. I learned that the hard way. That was embarrassing! This has continued even though I went to the website and deactivated this feature which I admit I should have been aware of when I signed up. I’m still trying to determine how to best manage social media. I can’t afford a Business Account on Commun.it.

My conclusion:  I don’t know how to get rid of Commun.it. Maybe if I ignore their e-mails long enough, they will stop sending out “Thank you for following me and, by the way, don’t you also want Commun.it to send out Tweets on your behalf without your knowing it?” e-mails.

Chris Andrews, a writer in Australia who reads my blog and I read his, advised me a few days ago to look into using Clicky.com. It’s a free service that should help me with this. I signed up for it, but there’s a glitch somewhere in a code so it’s not up and running for me yet. Stay tuned. Thanks again, Chris.

  1. Moz.com’s Keyword Explorer

I keep reading online that if I’m going to have a successful blog, I must use the trending keywords in my posts and in the posts’ titles. Otherwise, my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) won’t be good. In other words, no one will find my blog.

Moz.com has a service called Keyword Explorer that helps a blogger find keywords that would be most advantageous for him or her to use in order to drive more traffic to their blog. I don’t mean to bad mouth moz.com, but their cheapest plan would cost me $948-a-year, if I chose to pay annually. If I chose to pay monthly, my annual cost would be $1,188. Ouch! That’s more money than I’ll make this year from my writing. A lot more.

My conclusion:  Keep looking.

  1. Google Keyword Planner

I looked into using Google Keyword Planner, another service that would find the best keywords for me to use in my blog post titles. Surely, it would be cheaper than Keyword Explorer. If I understood the adwords.google.com website correctly, they will “help” me for free as long as I spend at least $10-a-day on ads. No thanks! I don’t have a published novel to advertise yet.

My conclusion:  As of November 21, 2016 – just four months ago today – my blog had 220 followers and had been visited by people from 32 countries. As of 11:30 last night, I had. . . drumroll, please. . . 1,000 followers and my blog has been visited by individuals from 42 countries. I must be doing something right, and I’m not spending an arm and a leg to generate traffic.

Proof of my 1,000th blog follower on March 20, 2017!

My general conclusions today about social media

I keep a daily check on my blog and my accounts with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. As long as my follower numbers steadily increase, I’m happy. And I must admit that I love seeing the flags appear on my blog’s sidebar as people in different countries visit the site. (See, I’m not completely against social media, and I’ve always loved geography!)

Social media should be fun. It should bring people together – even people who don’t agree with each other on the topic being discussed. I will continue to blog and use Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I might continue to use Google+. Two weeks ago, I created an account with Instagram. I might even use it someday.

Until my next blog post

Rest assured that I do my own writing. That’s what writers do. They write.

It upsets me when someone takes my words and claims them as their own.

It upsets me when someone writes words and claim that they are mine.

For the time being, except for those pesky Tweets commun.it keeps sending out, I plan to write my own Tweets, figure out my own keywords for my blog post titles, and refuse to stress out over who is following me on Twitter. Life is too short!

I take Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, as my example. She didn’t play by any of the rules dictated by the publishing industry in her lifetime. I’ll play by the rules as necessary, but I’m not going to let social media control my life.

This blog post makes me sound angry. I’m not angry. Just venting some frustration. Not ready to draw a line in the sand.

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Janet

P.S.  Relax. My next blog post will be a sample of my writing. With any luck, it won’t be controversial and won’t contain any rants or venting.

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11 Things I’ve Learned about Social Media since February 21, 2017

Certain social media platforms continue to be the bane of my existence. My February 21 blog post was 5 things I learned about Social Media this weekend. I continue to learn things. Some are more useful than others. Here are 11 things I’ve learned about social media since that earlier blog post.

  1. The first word in my blog post title is the most important word, as far as Google is concerned. (“11” probably isn’t the best choice, although I’ve read that it’s better than using “10.”)
  2. I need to use long-tail keywords in my blog post title, within the post, and also in subheadings. (I had to Google “long-tail keywords.”)
  3. Long-tail keywords are a targeted search phrase of three or more words. An example is “How to write a” or “How to get to.” These are the type of things that will bring your post up on page one of a Google search. Most people don’t move on to page two. (Since I’m still learning the craft of writing, I can’t very well title a blog post, “How to Write. . .” anything.)
  4. For $9.99 per month I can pay Alexa.com (an Amazon company) to tell me how people are finding my website and blog. That’s not in my budget. (I think I’ll just keep relying on WordPress analytics.)
  5. The “block” feature on Twitter comes in handy when creepy-sounding people follow me. (I think I’ve blocked three people so far.)
  6. One of those social media intricacies is “avatar.” Why can’t we just call our ideal reader an ideal reader? There is too much terminology springing from social media. (Yes, I am officially too old to be using this stuff!)
  7. With a free account, Commun.it will send out automatic weekly “Thanks for following me” Tweets; however, those Tweets include a flashy advertisement for Commun.it. That was embarrassing!  This seemed to continue even after I went into the website and deactivated this feature which I admit I should have be aware of when I signed up. In order to prevent the ads, you have to upgrade to a business account, which is pricey for someone in my situation. I’m still trying to determine how to best manage social media.
  8. Quora.com isn’t working out for me so far. Since I majored in political science in college, the site automatically sends me government questions. Since it has been 40 years since I was in a political science class and since my interests lie more in the realm of the craft of writing today, I wish they’d send me questions (and answers) about writing.
  9. A few of my pins on my “Novel in Progress:  The Spanish Coin” board on Pinterest have been repinned by others, which is encouraging. (I hope they remember me when my novel gets published!)
  10. I read that the best times to Tweet are Monday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Reading this on a Thursday night was not as helpful as it would have been on Monday morning. (It seems like this recommendation would depend on where in the world you live, but what do I know?)
  11. (And this is a constant) The more time I have to spend learning the intricacies of social media, the less time I have to read good books and work on my writing. (Actually, I learned this before February 21, but it deserves to be repeated.)

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. (I just finished reading The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan, and I highly recommend it!)

 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

If you like my blog, please share it on social media by using the icons below. I would appreciate it.

Janet

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5 things I learned about Social Media this weekend

If you follow my blog, bless you! If you follow my blog, you know that, among other things, I share my rocky journey into the world of social media. If you’re in the same boat, I hope you have found some information in my blog that was new and helpful to you.

Today’s post deviates from my plan to share a piece of my history writing. On Friday, I plan to post an article I wrote in 2007 about an 1897 head-on collision between two trains in Harrisburg, NC. Today I share my thoughts about five areas of social media that have come to my attention over the weekend.

Contact form on my blog

I was so proud on Friday that I’d figured out how to insert a comment form within the body of my blog. So far, that form has been a total flop. No one used it. If it was used, it didn’t work. I won’t try that again unless or until I learn how to benefit from it.

Quora

I mentioned Quora.com in my blog post on January 27, 2017, 3 Things to Try on Social Media in January , http://wp.me/pL80d-tt) and I’ve played around some with it some. Over the weekend, I found a 6-minute February 10, 2017 podcast offered for free on http://mschool.growtheverywhere.libsynpro.com/how-to-attract-9000-visitors-a-month-from-quora-ep-194 that/which gave several suggestions for those of us who are still trying to figure out how to best utilize Quora – or, more specifically, trying to determine if it is even a good tool for us or not. My problem is that I’m far removed from my college studies of political science to address most of the questions that come up in that area and I don’t feel qualified to answer questions about writing until I’ve gotten my first novel published. Bottom line:  I’m leaving my options open with Quora as I continue to find my niche.

Pinterest

On Saturday afternoon I finally got serious about trying to figure out where historical fiction fans hang out on social media. Finding https://www.statista.com/statistics/246183/share-of-us-internet-users-who-use-pinterest-by-age-group/ was helpful in a round-a-bout way since it presents the statistics for Pinterest users in 2016. Here’s the age breakdown:

36% 18-29 years old

34% 30-49 years old

28% 50-64 years old

16% 65 or older

I can’t afford full access to statista.com, but this bit of free information was helpful. These stats are not specific to fans of historical fiction, but I enjoy using Pinterest and it is beneficial to know what age people use it the most. It’s a piece of the puzzle.

I learned from Pinterest Analytics that I average having 13,440 views per month, but only 174 of them were engaged in my content. My most popular pin in the last 30 days was Chimney Tops Hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, three of my most popular pins were from my Great Smoky Mountains board. I originally set up that board (and the Blue Ridge Mountains board) to help draw attention to my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. If this book sounds interesting to you, you can purchase in paperback or for Kindle on amazon.com.

I read another WordPress.com blogger’s post pertaining to historical fiction writers. https://kmguerin.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/social-media-for-historical-fiction-writers-part-4-facebook/https://kmguerin.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/social-media-for-historical-fiction-writers-part-4-facebook/ gave a good suggestion:  Find a trending topic or article related to the time period you are writing about and post it. I have a board on Pinterest, “Novel in Progress:  The Spanish Coin,” in which I pin photos and information pertinent to 1771 in the Waxhaws area in present-day Lancaster County, SC, as well as the Rocky River Presbyterian Church community in present-day Cabarrus County, NC (part of Mecklenburg County in 1771), and Salisbury, NC. These are the three geographic locations in my novel. I have 69 pins and 24 followers on that board as of February 20, 2017. I need to attract more people to that Pinterest board. I invite you to visit me on Pinterest by clicking on the Pinterest icon in my blog’s sidebar. Pin this blog post to one of your Pinterest boards by clicking on the Pinterest icon below.

Reading Medieval historical fiction author K.M. Guerin’s July 18, 2016 Time-Worn Pages blog post, https://kmguerin.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/social-media-for-historical-fiction-writers-part-4-facebook/http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-get-more-pinterest-followers/ tipped me off to the fact that I was giving my blog readers a way to pin my posts to their Pinterest boards or share a link to my blog posts to their Facebook pages, but I did not provide a way for them to connect with me on social media. The proverbial lightbulb finally came on, folks!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I am not technologically savvy. What I’ve learned, I’ve had to dig up myself. I suppose that’s the best way to learn something new, but it surely is tedious. I read the above link to socialmediaexaminer.com on February 18, 2017 and worked until I figured out how to add “Follow me on Social Media” buttons in my blog’s sidebar. You wouldn’t believe what a sense of accomplishment that gave me!

LinkedIn and Instagram

I also picked up some ideas from reading a February 29, 2016 blog post by Jessica Lawlor on The Write Site. (https://thewritelife.com/quick-social-media-tips-for-writers-part-2) You can follow Jessica Lawlor on Twitter @jesslaw.) My takeaways:  (1) Republish some of my blog posts on LinkedIn; and (2) Instagram is a platform where I can build my brand and community, and I should refer to the link to my website or blog as found in my profile (i.e., using the words “Link in profile” somewhere in my post) because LinkedIn only allows accounts to display one link. I haven’t given up on LinkedIn, and I haven’t tried Instagram.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Janet