While books, magazines and newspapers are likely to be around in future, there’s no denying that the internet is increasing powerful when it comes to getting your message across. Writer, journalist and social networking addict Angeline Trevena offers her top tips for boosting your online presence.
The Internet is such a huge place it can be daunting to even get started. But you can actually carve out a niche for yourself. Try putting your own name into Google and see what comes up. You might see your social networking profiles, you might see your own website, you might see some sites about other people with the same name. You want control over the sites that show up, and the only way to do that is to create the information you want the search engines to pick up on.
Have your own website or blog
The best way to control information is to have your own website or blog. You don’t need an ology in web design, and you don’t need to spend a fortune either. There are many companies offering affordable web design, but you don’t even need that these days –Wordpress, MySpace or even Google Blogger are all easy to use.
There are also an entire range of different DIY website packages you can try. Some are better than others. But stick to this rule; if you’re not confident about designing your own site, keep it simple.
Regular updating is key. Search engines have a short attention span. If you don’t keep your site updated, it will slide down the results. Put latest news on your homepage, add your Twitter updates, announce new blog entries. And don’t be tempted to have a huge picture with a link saying ‘enter’ as your front page (known as a ‘splash page’): you need to feed the search engines with words, they can’t appreciate artwork!
Remember your readers
But the No 1 rule with your website is this: ALWAYS write for your readers. Google appreciates keywords, but Google is never going to buy your book or commission you for an article. Make your website attractive for humans and useful to search engines.
Start social networking
The Social Networking giants are Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and, increasingly, Pinterest. MySpace has largely become a domain for bands, but a lot of indie writers, designers, businesses etc still have profiles.
The ones that will work best for you depend greatly on your audience.
But when you do decide which ones to sign up to, don’t let the page languish; your social media pages are like your shop window, so keep them clear of cobwebs and dust!
Link things together
If you have social networking profiles, paste links to them from your website, and links to your website from your profiles. The web is so-called for a reason. It’s all about linking things together, networking and making connections. Don’t allow your website to simply drift away into space all alone.
Make friends on Facebook
If you’re not already on Facebook, go and put your email address in and you’ll be surprised how many people you know are on it. So right from the start, you’re not going to be alone.
You have to have a Facebook account, but once you’ve set that up, you can create your own Fan Page. Set up your page, invite all your friends and get them to invite all their friends too.
Again, always keep the page updated. Post interesting and useful links, links to new blog entries, links to your work published on the net, put up all your latest news, musings, thoughts and endeavours.
In the modern age people like the personal touch, they like to think they’re getting inside information and that they know you.
Twitter updates are limited to 140 characters, so it’s not going to take up a lot of your time. Follow other writers for mutual support. Follow magazines and writing societies for news. Follow anyone posting competitions and opportunities. There is a wealth of information on Twitter, you just need to be following it!
Friday is ‘Follow Friday’ day (#FF). Do yours early and put in all the profiles you fancy stealing followers from. Then, when other people do their #FF listings, they’re likely to return the favour and post your profile. You can also do ‘Writer Wednesday’.
Hashtags are used for popular topics. Use them, you never know who’s watching. #amwriting and #iamwriting are common ones.
There are millions of forums out there for writers. Chat to other writers and put your website address(es) in your signature. Be friendly, supportive and interesting and people will check out your site.
But don’t don’t don’t spam. People don’t appreciate it and it won’t help your online presence at all.
Keep up to date
The Internet changes so fast and you need to keep your finger on the pulse. There are many Internet magazines online and in print, and companies talking about all the latest developments via Twitter and Facebook. What works today might not work tomorrow.
My three golden rules are:
1 – UPDATE: don’t let any of your sites or profiles get forgotten and out of date.
2 – NETWORK: get involved and get your name out there as often as you can.
3 – BE SAVVY: be aware of the constant ebb and flow of Internet trends.
4 – Have fun with it!
Find out more about Angeline at www.angelinetrevena.co.uk and angelinetrevena.blogspot.co.uk.