Kyle Willey

Ten Commandments of Showing Off (Part 3)

I’ve been working on this series to help people show off work, especially writing. Today we’re going to wrap up with the final three commandments for how to think about approaching social media.

If you missed them, here are part 1 and part 2 of the series.

Rule 8: Thou Shalt Not Give Up

If you want to show off work, it’s important to think about how building a public profile works.

It’s not something where you share something once and stop.

When I look at professional and amateur writers, one distinction is that a professional writer will share new stuff along older content. Amateur writers may over-share a particular piece they’ve done, hammering it home multiple times, which runs into a problem with Rule 10 (which we’ll get to when we get to it), but when they share new stuff they rarely use that to leverage their back catalog.

That’s fine if you’re doing something entirely different, but if you’re still writing in the same genre or field that your past work was in, promote all your stuff as part of your content strategy.

You might strategically choose not to do this. I don’t promote some of my older games because they’re nowhere near the quality of my current work. The secret there is that I’ve decided not to do that. My first big game project was a five-month project that got bogged down in a mess. I’m still proud of parts of it, but the overall presentation was so mediocre that I couldn’t favorably compare it to anything else and I don’t have the time or desire to update it. Coincidentally, “Babylon’s Echo”, a short story I posted on this site, is based on the setting I made for that game.

However, when I release games or write about my work on my games I always focus on how I learned from and developed upon my past work, and often share the older games when I talk about newer games.

The reason for this is simple:

The Power of Persistence

One thing that underpins this strategy is a decision to have a long-term and persistent marketing strategy. For instance, I’ve reached a point now where my reach is about 7500 people a month. I’m actually building back up because I’ve done some things that have hit my traffic, but that’s nothing to sneeze at. It doesn’t make me a lot of money, in part because I’m not a fan of advertising and I don’t have books for sale (yet), but the line’s going up in ways that are actually significant..

You want to figure out a strategy that builds evergreen content.

For me, that’s blogging, but I’m not fond of doing multimedia production like some kids these days.

One thing that happens as you show off is that you get a mixture of word-of-mouth and attention from search engines, which are going to be looking at your work as something that people are interested in.

One thing that happens as you show off is that you get a mixture of word-of-mouth and attention from search engines, which are going to be looking at your work as something that people are interested in. Click To Tweet

But what if you just post on social media? Let’s assume that you show off work that people like. As you do that, you build up an increased follower base that will be future markets for your content. That’s not parasitic, either. People follow you because they’re interested in you. There are strategic reasons to have your own website, but that comes with some time and money investment–at least if you want the full benefits. It also is perhaps the second step, since you can share to a social media profile a lot better if you already have a social media profile.

Rule 9: Thou Shalt Not Over-Specialize

One thing that people often fall victim to is over-specialization. It’s good to know your target market.

It’s not good to devote too much effort to specialized ways of reaching out to your target market. An important question to ask when showing off work is whether the costs match the benefits.

For instance, I don’t hunt down a lot of sci-fi communities to share my writing, even though a lot of what I write is sci-fi.

Why?

Because I am not fond of spending too much time promoting myself and I prefer general platforms where I can reach a broad audience.

Not that you shouldn’t reach out to target communities. I pay a price for not being in specialized communities, and it’s that I don’t have access to the same people. But when you hop around genres and styles like I do, you need to balance the time investment.

If you know that with your focus that you’re going to be investing a lot of time to a community, do it. But keep time to do general marketing as well. Unless you write only niche stuff, a post or tweet on a major social media site may reach as much of your target audience as any smaller community would provide.

Now if you produce something like law casebooks, you probably want to focus on law schools when you do your marketing. Tweeting about something like that might not be efficient (and it is worth assessing whether there’s a market for what you write on major social media platforms), so weigh the costs and benefits.

Rule 10: Thou Shalt Not Be Obnoxious

Don’t make it all about you.

Don’t whine.

Don’t beg.

Don’t lie.

Don’t spam.

Don’t belittle others.

Don’t monopolize conversations.

If you follow these rules, you’ll go a lot further. When you show off your work, you want to make things clear, yes.

But you need to consider your audience. We’ve already covered some of this, like being honest about your work. But it’s important to consider how you come across. I see particular people in some groups post links a lot and never engage. Further, it’s not even links to their own community-focused content, but links to their marketplace pages.

A minimalist approach is acceptable. I mentioned promoting your old stuff with your new stuff earlier. Don’t make that be five consecutive posts on your audience’s timelines. It’s okay to take a hands-off approach to platforms like Twitter. You’re not the most important person in others’ lives. But don’t ask for more than you give.

Be positive and encouraging, especially of others. I usually have other people do more of my social media work than I do, for free, without me asking. Building a strong relationship does that.

Remember that the goal in showing off is to interest people, not put them off. If you’re using social media, consider if you’re doing things that are off-brand. Being personal is fine, but over-sharing or offending people runs against your interests. Don’t drunk-tweet or rage-post on your public pages (or, better yet, at all).

Behave like you would want other people to behave toward you.

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