Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 10)

Courtesy of: By Ghozt Tramp [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 Well, now that we’ve pretty well exhausted the basics, are you ready to move on to the next step in building your platform?  Hope so, because this is where the foundations you’ve been setting up really are going to prove their worth.

So far, I have focused on you generating your OWN content.  That is wonderful, and highly needed.  However, it is impractical to expect to do so forever.  There will come a time when you discover you’ve run out of ideas.  (Wait, I’m an author, what do I mean “run out of ideas”?!?)  It will happen.  Some call it writer’s block, others call it burn out, but there will eventually come a time when you just… cannot…. put…. anything… on… the….screen.

By then, if you’re smart, you will have the ability to call on help to keep things going while you take a break.  What I mean by this, is that you’ve networked.  Yes, that is a terrifying thought.  But in practice, it’s not as hard as it sounds.  Even for people who are extremely introverted.

Basic Networking Sites

Not only do you have an excellent one here on WordPress (or which ever blogging platform you’re on), you’ve got at least two others that have this built into them if you’ve been expanding your foundations faithfully.  By this, I mean Facebook and Twitter.  (Tumbler, LinkedIn, Google+, all the rest qualify as well.)

Facebook

Every time you talk to someone, be they a blogger, author, friend, or stranger, there is an opportunity to gain new content.  Either through a chat transcript, or even through the posts you’re sharing, liking, and commenting on.  With permission, that is all content you can use – and you did not have to create it all yourself.  Just, PLEASE make sure you’ve received permission from the people you’re talking to before you post it. More on that bit later in the post.

Twitter

This one is a bit harder to generate all of your content from, though with the emphasis towards graphics in the tweets, it may not be as difficult as you think.  Once again, the posts you like, share, or retweet can become the kernal (or extent) of your post.

Pinterest

Another good source for networking, and generating content.  While I do not use this as much as some, it is in large part because I’m not all that familiar with the platform.  (Links with good “how to” or “Beginners guide 101” well appreciated in the comments!)  The other thing that may become an issue is verifying the origins of the post, and making sure you have permission to use it.

 

Once you’ve discovered the networking sites, and  begun to develop the relationships there, it’s time to start thinking long term.  Becoming friends with someone who loves to “talk” is always thrilling.  Either because they’ve got stories to tell, or because it means you get a chance to “listen” more than talk.  (Yes, introverts, I’m talking to you here… I know that complaint all too well, believe it or not.)  As you build up the relationships through interactions, you may be able to consider if the person would have anything worthwhile to post to your platform.

It is always important to remember WHAT your platform is for.  Sure, for writers, the most obvious answer is to sell your books.  But, when that’s ALL you talk about, it becomes b-o-r-i-n-g!  Not to mention, it’s bad manners.  I mean, really, think back to some family dinner, or business-sponsored party when you wound up cornered by someone who was a one-horse rodeo.  How long did it take for you to want to run as far away from them as you could?  Even if you had a similar opinion, I’m willing to guess, it didn’t take too long.  So, how do you use your platform to sell your books?  And, how does this “networking” thing tie in?

  1. When you’re talking to others, talk about anything you are interested in.  Do not get stuck in the rut of only talking about your books.  Sure, if you’re writing, and you are having problems, feel free to ask someone if you can talk to them one-on-one in a private forum about the issue.  This gives them the option of accepting, but it also lets them know what they may be getting in for.
    • A good personal example of this: I have a couple that when I’m asked for help I willingly will give up a night of work on my own projects in order to help them through a sticky spot or five.  I also have a few who do the same for me.
    • They are not the same people, usually.  I don’t mind – that’s what I network for.  It provides a larger pool of potential help should I need it.
  2. If the person you’re talking to has a good idea that not only answers the obvious question, but many others you were working on, why not ask them to write a guest post for you?  This is a wonderful way to reciprocate and show your appreciation for the person you’re talking to.  There’s also a few other benefits that come along with it.
    • It provides a new perspective on the issues you’ve been working on for your readers, as well as yourself
    • It is usually provided in a format that makes copying and pasting into a blog post very simple which means you’ve now got new content without having to create it yourself
    • Often times if you had that question, someone else in your following did as well.  So, perhaps there might be some good discussion generated over the issue, which can open up new ideas or new ways of looking at it.
    • When you share the post (which is the polite thing to do), you have a chance of tapping into the person’s following and gaining a few new followers for yourself.
  3. When you network properly, you’re raising your own exposure.  Yes, odd as it sounds when you comment, like, share, retweet, or interact with someone on most of the big networking sites, the likelihood of someone seeing your name pop up on their feed is pretty high.  On the blog itself, while it’s not as authomatic, the visitors who come to read the post will see the names of the people leaving comments.

Basic Networking Etiquette

I mentioned earlier that I’d be getting into this.  When you’re talking with someone, that does not mean you “own” the transcript.  Even if there is some good information included, and you would like to quote from the conversation, it is always polite to ask if you can first.  It’s one thing if you are chatting, and the quote is made in passing.  But, with your platform – especially if you are composing blog posts – you’d like to have something that can be left up long term.  It does not matter if the quote is text, a meme, a picture, video, or any other media source.  If you do not have permission to use it, a couple of things can occur.

  • Take down notice – this is the most polite thing that might happen.  Someone finds out that you’ve been using their words, or other media, and asks for you to take it down.  If you do not, and you do not have permission to use the material, there is potential for legal action to be filed against you.  Not to mention, word WILL get out about your pirating, and refusal to acknowledge it.  That is highly damaging to your reputation, which also damages your platform.
  • You wind up getting fined – there have been a couple of cases recently in which someone thought they had permission to use an image, and were informed via a take down request email, that they did not have such permission.  Even though the person removed the image in question, they were still served with a fine and legal fees.  I lost track of the cases, so do not know for certain if the person who accidentally used the wrong material had to pay the entire amount, or just part, or if they were able to successfully dispute the fees.  This is not something you want to risk.  The more popular the image, the greater the chance of discovery.  Especially if the content is from someone or a company that has quite a large backing.

Now, these are not to say that if you find a good article you like that you should never reblog, share, retweet, or re-use the content.  Some blogs may specifically not allow reblogging – and if they feel that way, then they can deactivate that feature.  For the shares and retweets – there is a pretty generous understanding that if the post is put up publicly it is available to be spread around.  However, if ever in doubt, please ask.

This is more for the images, videos, and sound recordings.  For those, depending on your browser, you can filter your results by license type.  I highly advise doing so, and even then, once you find the media you want to reuse, check the actual license for the piece.  It should be easily located.  If not, then my personal opinion would be to NOT use that particular media piece.

So, with the basics of proper networking, and the fact that I’m once again heading into rambling territory, I’m going to sign off for now.  Next time, I’ll see if I can help break down how to build a network on the main social media platforms in a unique way.  There are many, MANY articles that cover this territory, which will make composing that post something more than preaching to the choir a bit of a challenge.

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