When Emily Carlisle, aka More than Just a Mother, started blogging in 2008, little did she know it would change her life. In this post she tells us how social media has opened up all kinds of doors, including finding a literary agent for her manuscript.
Blogging is just one of the options in your social media toolbox and just like any other piece of kit, it can do whatever you want it to do for you. This article explains what social media does for me;
1. Social media gives me a platform
I’ve been writing all my life. I’ve edited charity newsletters, produced articles for the local rag and scrawled the beginnings of a hundred stories across the pages of crisp, clean notebooks. I’ve always had to search for an outlet; for the right medium to use. The advent of social media gave me a platform to write exactly what I want, in the way I want, when I want. Whether you confine your views to 140 characters, use the notes field of Facebook or pontificate across several blog posts, there’s always a forum available for your message.
2. Social media gives me an audience
Within an hour of writing my first ever blog post in December 2008, two people had read it. Within a month of blogging, a handful of regulars were commenting on my posts. Two years on, over ten thousand visitors stop by my site each month. I’m awed by the organic nature in which blogs evolve. To boost this natural growth I’ve employed social media techniques to promote my blog; I have an active Facebook page and I tweet links to new posts. Nowadays over half my daily traffic comes from these two sources. The world is your audience, and with social media your reach as a blogger is unlimited.
3. Social media gives me confidence to write
Getting feedback from friends and family is one thing. Getting unsolicited feedback from strangers is an entirely different matter, and provides validation that your content is engaging and interesting. Over the course of the last two years I have gained in confidence, slowly finding the courage to share my writing with those ‘real life’ friends around me.
4. Social media gives me a new identity
No, I’m not on the run or in a witness protection scheme, but I do choose to keep a degree of separation between my online life and my working life. I did this by choosing a new name, but you don’t need to be as radical as that to find freedom in a new online identity. As a blogger, a tweeter or a MySpace inhabitant you can play around with aspects of your character to which you’ve never before given free rein. I’ve lost count of the number of chatty bloggers who tell me how shy they are in ‘real life’. I’d never have guessed from their online persona. Embrace social media and you can be whoever you want to be.
5. Social media gives me friends
It’s corny but true; some of my closest friends are those I met online. The blogging community is surprisingly tight-knit within its specialist fields, and it’s amazing how you can get to know people through their blogs, their comments on your own posts, and their tweets. I’ve even got to know my real life community better, thanks to people I’ve met on Twitter who I might not otherwise have spoken to.
6. Social media gives me an income
Without really looking for it, my blog very quickly began to generate a small income. I secured copywriting work and gained consultancy opportunities. Whenever you have a publishing platform, however small, you have opportunities for advertising, sponsored content, and product reviews. A blog showcases your talents in other areas – not just through writing, but through the specialist skills you may demonstrate such as photography or crafts. Your blog becomes your online CV and an opportunity to generate work – if you want it.
7. Social media secured me a magazine column
I had been blogging for about a year before I was shortlisted for an award as the UK’s funniest parent blogger. I sent a press release to a couple of local publications and was invited to start a regular blog for the website of a regional magazine. Six months later I landed a monthly column in the magazine itself, fulfilling a childhood dream of being a columnist. It’s not Vanity Fair, but it’s a start…
8. Social media found me an agent
I wrote a book last year – my first novel – and began listing publishers and literary agents I hoped would at least read my opening chapters. It was a daunting task and in desperation and slight tongue in cheek I dashed off a quick Facebook status on my blog’s fan page; “If any of my followers are literary agents, now would be a great time to get in touch.” Barely an hour later I received a message from a foreign rights agent – he didn’t represent UK authors himself, but was happy to read my submission and refer it to a contact. Within a fortnight I’d bypassed the slushpile and am now working with a top London agent to get my novel ready for publication. Not bad for a Facebook status.
Within two years, blogging has changed my life. That’s what social media has done for me – what could it do for you?
Photo credit: notionscapitol