Social Media Experiments Check-In

Mobile phone with facebook log in page on wooden table with scrabble tiles spelling "social media" next to it.
image courtesy of Firmbee via pixabay.com

It’s already June! And that means it’s time for another check-in around social media channels. I can’t believe we are halfway through the year!

My social media needs and uses are still changing, and I’m realizing that one of the elements of social media is about change. I’m still not taking on handling social media accounts for clients, although I will create content that they can then use. But I’m not handling the posting/answering for anyone except myself right now. I’m also on social media far less than I was at the beginning of the year. I think social media fatigue is a very real phenomenon, both for posters and for viewers.

I’m still not happy with any of the scheduling tools I’ve played with. They don’t handle enough social media channels, and if they handle several of them, it’s not at a price point that makes sense for me right now.

Again, the caveat for this post is that this is based on my experiences with what’s worked for me/what I’ve enjoyed over the past six months. I’d love to hear, in the comments, about how your social media habits and needs are changing.

Bluesky: This is where I spend a lot of my social media time. I spend time on this platform in ways most similar to what I did on Twitter, although I do not have the follower count I had there, and it doesn’t drive conversion traffic the same way Twitter did. I keep reminding myself I was on Twitter for 13 years building both follower count and conversions, and I need to be patient. Since it’s moved on from being invitation-only, there’s a wider net of people on it. Fortunately, the controls are solid enough so one can curate out the trolls. They just rolled out DMs. For the moment, I have mine shut off.

Bookbub: Same song, different month. I’m still not utilizing it to its potential. Since I have some books releasing toward the end of this year, I hope to change that.

Cohost: Not on it anymore.

CounterSocial: Every few months, I check in, but don’t spend much time there. It doesn’t drive traffic to any of my other sites, and I can’t afford the time for the platform, either financially or emotionally.

Creative Ground: I keep my profile updated over there, and regularly tour around to check out what other creatives are doing, especially with an eye to future collaborations. Their ArtsHub of Western MA regularly has good information on submission calls, job opportunities, and other creative opportunities. Even though it’s New England-centric, it’s worth it, and I certainly get far more out of it than I do on LinkedIn. I wish it had a social media component, which would make connections easier, but that would need a lot of funding on both staff and technical elements, and I understand why it’s not a possibility at this time.

Ello: Shut down, which is a shame, since it was so useful for several years.

Facebook: Since I’m winding down my work on the Vella platform and no longer have to participate in the author groups, FB is mostly to check in with friends who aren’t on any other social media platforms. The other purpose is ads for my work. FB ads continue to drive traffic and convert into sales. In other words, sometimes I hang out; other times I’m purely mercenary.

Hive: I no longer use it, and don’t miss it.

Instagram: At this point, I’m probably on Instagram more than any other platform (including Bluesky). It’s good for promoting my work; it’s good for cheering on fellow artists and small businesses whose work and mission I love. It’s a mix of fun and work. I do lean more toward the fun, both in posting and in use, but there’s a worthwhile business component in there, too.

Ko-fi: I’m working on a business plan to make it fun for the audience while still feasible both in terms of dollars and long-term audience connection benefits. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

LinkedIn: Basically useless for what I do. I keep an updated profile there because it’s expected. I’m tired of “recruiters” wasting my time and the scammers.

Mastodon: I’m on there less than on Bluesky, but still fairly regularly, especially for various writer hashtagged groups. It’s slow growth, but getting stronger conversion rates than it did several months ago.

Pinterest: Behind on where I should be, as far as using it as additional material around my work. Since most of what I do is text-based rather than visual, it’s not as useful for me as for some other artists.

Post: They shut down on May 31. I did promo posts and read some news, but that’s it. There wasn’t much interaction.

Ravelry: Haven’t used it in ages. Never did make it back on over the winter.

Spoutible: Hardly ever on it anymore. While I enjoyed some of the interactions, it didn’t drive traffic to my sites or have a conversion rate, so it’s another case of not being able to afford to spend the time there, on any level.

Substack: I could not justify staying on the platform when their management is so far out of alignment with my values on multiple levels. I see so many people just ignoring it and joining or staying on the platform anyway, but I could not. I left the platform at the end of last year, and miss it far less than I thought I would. I do not subscribe to any of the Substack newsletters, nor do I boost posts about material on Substack.

T2/Pebble: Out of business.

Threads: I’m still not on Threads, although I probably should be. Just the thought of it makes me tired.

TikTok: has been very useful for promoting the serials, books, and the shorts. The metrics don’t always add up to the same as the numbers on the videos themselves, which is sometimes confusing. This summer, I also want to add some more “fun” content, not just writing-related content, about places I visit, etc. A video up at the lake, or at the sunken garden at the Mount, or out at the Spruces. Things like that. Mix it up a bit. Maybe do some videos on inspirations behind the writing. But staying off camera, because I do not go on camera.

Tribel: I don’t use it anymore. Too much screaming, too little connection.

Tumblr: Using it less and less, as the audience is skewing differently to my audience more and more. Blog posts automatically upload, and I do promos, but that’s about it. Lower conversion rate than FB and TikTok.

Twitter does not exist anymore, and I am not interested in the entity known as X. My account is locked, and I haven’t been on the platform since August of 2023.

There are plenty of platforms I don’t use. If it’s only app-based for phone and I can’t use it on the laptop, it’s not for me.

That’s where I currently am in regard to the social media landscape. What have you discovered in the past few months?

Social Media Experiments Part 3

social media apps on a phone

December 8, 2023: More Social Media Experiments

This should have gone up on the 6th. Apologies.

I’ve settled into several platforms pretty regularly, and I’m sharing my experiences. This is the third post of the year about these various platforms. I’ll probably do it annually moving forward, but this year was such a year of social media tumult, it made sense to update the experiments.

Again, this is my experience with my own work, not for clients.

The blunt truth is that, unless a site drives traffic and results in sales of my work, I can’t put the time into it. Hanging out and being social is fine, but it also has to drive traffic to my sites and result in sales.

Bluesky: This has become the platform on which I am most active. It took a bit of time to acclimate, but as more and more writers, artists, publishers, agents, etc. migrate over, it makes sense to be there. I have some great conversations, there’s support for the work, it drives traffic back to the work, and I’ve had two short stories published in publications whose submission calls I originally found on the site. I’m strict about curating my feed and quick to block. There are bullies and shitposters, and I have not time or patience for that. Immediate blocks are my best tool. I reconnected with some former colleagues from Twitter, and have met up with a bunch of new people who I really enjoy. It’s getting to be the site where I can post a question about something and get viable answers, as it continues to grow.

Bookbub: Still haven’t spent enough quality time there to make it work. It’s not a typical social media platform, but it could be a good marketing tool, if I would make the time to use it properly.

Cohost: Have not been on it since March, don’t intend to go back. It did not meet my needs; its user base is not my target audience.

Counter Social: I’ve been on there less frequently. The garden posts and inks to short story publications and articles get traction. The serials get nothing. The conversations aren’t as varied as they were a few months ago, but I figure it’s cyclical.

Creative Ground: I keep my profile updated over there, and I’ve started using it to find organizations to work with, or individual artists for collaborative projects. It is New England-centric, but I like it. One of their offshoots, Arts Hub of Western MA, boosted our Boiler House Poets Collective Reading to their audience in autumn, and, through them, I found a submission call for an ekphrastic poem at an Easthampton Gallery. My piece was one of those chosen, and I attended the exhibit opening to read my piece with my fellow poets, and met others there with whom I’m still in contact. Setting up the profile was a PITA, but it was worth it.

Ello: Sadly, this site tanked in June. It was one of my favorites, and drove a lot of traffic that resulted in sales in its heyday, a few years back.

Facebook: The Vella author groups make it a necessity. I use it for that, for ads to promote my work, and to keep up with friends who aren’t on other social media sites. Not one of my favorite platforms. The reality is that Facebook ads result in sales, so whatever I feel about the platform, it is a necessity for my income.

Hive: No longer try to use it (it was clunky) and don’t miss it.

Instagram: I’ve upped my Instagram use a lot since summer. In addition to it being my “fun” account for posting photos of cooking, reading, sewing, decorations, cats, it’s also a solid promotional tool.

Ko-fi: Haven’t used it in months. Am re-thinking how I want to use it.

Linked In: Tired of skeezy “businessmen” looking for sex pretending they’re hiring for a legitimate job. Tired of recruiters wasting my time, not wanting to give out basic information such as salary and job parameters, and contacting me for positions that have nothing to do with my actual profession. I’m a writer. Don’t contact me about a practical nurse vacancy. Total waste of time.

Mastodon: Hit and miss. Slowly building connections. It’s difficult to find people. Sometimes it drives traffic, sometimes it does not. There are writing games that are fun (provided no one asks for snippets of WIP – posting unpublished WIP on ANY site, thereby blowing first rights, is a nonstarter for me).

Pinterest: Haven’t finished implementing the changes I want to on my account. But it’s on the list for next year, so I can utilize its potential better, especially in terms of the serials.

Post: I use it more to read news than for interaction. I do post promos.

Ravelry: Haven’t been on it in months, although I will probably spend some time there over the winter, when I do more crocheting.

Spoutible: Some interesting people and good information/conversations. But it’s skewed more to politics and music than writing and other arts, so I spend less time there than I did initially. I like it, most of the time; there just aren’t enough artists on it, and it doesn’t drive enough traffic to my sites.

Substack: I like it, and enjoy the Notes feature, but the growth is much slower than I would like. I don’t like the hidden tiered system they use, where they pay some of their writers, but expect others to generate their own followings/income. I am unhappy that they allow right wing misinformation outlets to monetize the platform in the name of “free speech.” The amount of reading material is overwhelming. I’m in the process of unsubscribing from a lot of my subscriptions, especially if it’s not mutual.

T2: They changed their name to Pebble and then went out of business a few weeks later.

Threads: Have not tried it. I have friends who love it. I’m not sure why I’m so reluctant, except that it’s overwhelming to add One More Thing. Maybe once I clean up my Substack, I’ll have the spoons for it, but I don’t right now.

TikTok: Probably the best platform resulting in sales, even without ad buys. There’s no way I could afford an ad buy on TikTok. Just in regular views, it grows exponentially, week to week, and results in sales. It takes me about an hour to do the week’s episode videos for the serials, now that I have a template. It takes longer to do individual project videos. But they get results. I am not on camera, and it’s not that hard to create videos without being on camera.

Tribel: Haven’t been on it in months; don’t miss the screaming.

Tumblr: Decent at driving traffic to the sites, although conversion to sales is lower than TikTok or Facebook. I hear rumors that it’s in trouble and may close soon; that would be a shame.

Twitter: Twitter is dead, intentionally destroyed by Yegads Muskrat. I do not acknowledge the site known as X. I locked my account in August and have not been back. I do miss it, and I miss the reach, the traffic it drove to my sites, the conversion rates, but that’s what rebuilding is all about. That’s why it’s so important to have a website one OWNS, and not rely on social media platforms owned by others.

There are several other dozens of sites out there, such as Spill, Minds, Reddit, etc., which I don’t use. Most I haven’t tried. If it’s only app-based, with no desktop/laptop option, I’m out. I don’t like Reddit because its brand is bullying, as far as I can see. Besides, the above list keeps me quite busy enough!

I’m also frustrated that there’s not an affordable scheduling tool that goes across all the platforms I need. I could budget in paying for a tool, if it did what I needed it to do. But none of them – Buffer, Hootsuite, and the like – give me all I need, and I won’t pay for partials.

What are your favorite social media tools? What do you find drives traffic best to your sites? Which tools give you the best conversions? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Reinvention Time

Balloons, dirigibles, and cogs on parchment above a book flanked by a candle on each side.
image courtesy of Dorothe via pixabay.com

The break on this blog was certainly longer than just August. The aim is to post on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, moving forward. The first Wednesday did not work, since there was some kerflamma with WordPress. So, here we are.

The WGA Strike hit me hard, at least as far as income is concerned. It’s worth it, since the studios want to destroy this particular art form both as an art form that communicates to hearts and souls, and as a viable profession. The strikes that have happened across the country this year are necessary.

But that doesn’t make the day to day and month to month demands on bills any easier.

And it doesn’t make roll my eyes any less and forward to the Guild all the predatory scabbing attempts that try to workaround the strike that regularly land in my inboxes. And delete all those crap emails about “full-time freelance” (for a single employer) or “20 hours, but you must be available to work 37.5 hours” emails that also land in my inboxes. That’s called an unbenefited employee, and nope, not doing it.

In spite of that, the bulk of my work has not been in the typical nonfiction independent contractor field over the past few months, and that’s okay.

I was fortunate to be a part of the Dramatists Guild’s End of Play program in April, in which I wrote the first draft of FALL FOREVER, a full-length play that was born in June of 2022 in a playwrights’ workshop hosted by the Williamstown Theatre Festival. I was even more fortunate to have it chosen for a virtual reading in early May with some wonderful, dedicated actors. The play has gone through a few rounds of thorough revisions in the interim, and is now out on submission. Fingers crossed.

At the end of May, I attended a local small business expo. I had a wonderful time, exchanged a lot of cards, and have had a lot of fun following up, chatting, and planning future projects with fellow entrepreneurs.

In July, once again, I was part of Word X Word Festival’s Very Large Poem, where 51 poets created a collaborative poem that flowed around the audience seated in the center. It was an amazing experience. In August, I was part of their Poets in Conversation series, creating a piece around the topic of book banning and gun violence. In October, I create another poem for that series on the topic of work.

In late July, I was able to begin a year-long project at the Clark Art Institute creating ekphrastic poetry, flash fiction, and plays inspired by various art pieces, both in traveling exhibitions (such as their PROMENDADES ON PAPER and  EDVARD MUNCH: THE TREMBLING EARTH) along with work from their permanent collection. I go about once a week and spend time with various pieces. Later this autumn, I will do some research in their library.

In August, I was finally able to go down to research in the Westchester Archives about my Playland Painters (the five women who painted the props at Playland Amusement Park from 1928-1940). I found names for the original painters, and I am in the process of tracking them through libraries, archives, and census records around the country, to see if I can prove if any of them are the women in my photo. I also learned some fascinating information that fed into a project mentioned later on.

From August through early October, I’ve been honored to be a part of Nightwood Theatre’s Creatryx 3.0 unit. Nightwood is a feminist theatre company in Toronto, and they put together an amazing group of theatre artists to create and support each other’s work. I’ve worked on a full-length stage drama with the working title of FROZEN AT THE PALACE THEATRE, again born in the 2022 Williamstown workshop. I also shared the opening of THE WOMEN ON THE BRIDGE, another full-length stage play, inspired by Munch’s 1904 painting of the same name (also sometimes referred to as THREE GIRLS ON A JETTY). The feedback on both has been enormously helpful. The plan is to finish the first drafts of each of them by the end of the year.

Through all of this, I’ve continued with the serials. Legerdemain, the fantasy/mystery, continues to drop episodes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s structured to be ongoing (not a book released in chapters) for as long as it’s viable. It even has its own website. Welcome to Legerdemain, a city of magic, misfits, and murder.

Angel Hunt, the urban fantasy about a witch, an angel, and an impossible task, releases new episodes on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is finite and completely written; I’m still uploading it and expect it will end in Spring 2024 after around 140 episodes. If it continues to be viable, I have several more seasons planned, and have started writing season 2, called The Lighthouse Lady.

Deadly Dramatics, the retro mystery about love, lust, theatre, rock and roll and murder, set in 1996 New York, launched this past July. It is completely written and uploaded, with new episodes going live on Wednesdays and Saturdays until October 5, 2024 (it runs 128 episodes). If it continues to be viable, there will be more seasons. I have some outlines, and I’ve started writing season 2, The Vicious Critic.

You can watch intro videos on all the serials on my serials page, and there are new episode videos on TikTok for each episode drop.

I’ve written some short stories, two of which will appear later this year. “Lavender” will be in New Zealand’s FLASH FRONTIER in October, and “The Forest Library” will be in DOES IT HAVE POCKETS? In December.

One of my ekphrastic poems was chosen to pair with a woodblock print out in Easthampton, and I was able to attend the show’s opening and read, with my fellow poets.

I’ve had conversations with several radio producers and have more radio plays out on submission.

I still release a new column of The Process Muse every Wednesday over on Substack.

I’ll be part of Llewellyn’s 2025 Spell-A-Day Almanac; since we write two years ahead, those 25 short pieces went out the door a few days ago.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend art openings and open studios and see some excellent theatre over the past few months. I enjoyed meeting fellow artists, got inspired by their work. One of them even taught me how to work with Gelli plates, and now I am obsessed. I’m also experimenting more with clay, textiles, and mixed media.

Where does that leave the freelance contractor work?

The demise of Twitter meant I took a hit in sales for the Topic Workbooks, the other books, and negatively affected the serials. As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m experimenting with different social media channels. I posted in January and June about my experience, and will do another post in December of this year.

I need to spend more time in the Kindle Vella promotion groups on Facebook, but I can only do so when I can commit the time to read others’ work.

I’ve loved the work I’ve done these past months, and it makes me rethink the kind of work I want to do as a freelance contractor. Opportunities that I would have jumped at even a year ago no longer have an appeal. And that’s okay.

It’s about redefining how I want to work in partnership with other businesses and communities moving forward. Between weather and rising COVID numbers, it will be a pretty isolated winter of remote work again, and I need to seek out partnerships that will carry through the winter into spring and be fulfilling on both creative and financial levels.

I have some irons in the fire for next spring going into next summer, and we’ll see what does and does not pan out, and make further decisions from there.

I’m maintaining my decision not to take on social media work for clients at this point. With the fractured social media landscape, I do not believe I am the right person for that job. And my refusal to use AI in any of my work informs a lot of my decisions with whom to work.

I’m not counting on the strike to be settled before the end of the year, and am therefore looking at other work. If the strike ends earlier, and the script analysis and/or scriptwriting work picks up again, I can make decisions on a project-by-project basis.

I hold the boundaries of no unpaid labor as part of the interview process. That includes project specific samples, tests, or introductory/interview videos. All of that should be paid labor, and any “business” who expects it for free is not someone with whom I’m interested in working.

I’ve noticed a lot of businesses are trying to revert to pre-COVID policies and marketing strategies and then they act surprised when no one (neither customer nor potential employee) is interested in buying what they’re selling. I’ve had several “why aren’t you interested in working with us?” and “why won’t you do this for free?” questions over the months, and I have been straightforward in my answers.

We don’t live in the same world as we did at the end of 2019, and the same old strategies are not going to work.

That is as true for me personally and professionally.

I have no idea, at the moment, where this will all lead. I’ve reworked my resume and my LOI template. I’m preparing to go into residence in The Studios at MASSMoCA next week with the Boiler House Poets Collective; soon after that, I have jury duty.

In the meantime, I’m compiling a list of potential clients to whom I plan to send either project proposals or LOIS.

What are your plans for fall and winter? How are you changing your focus in your work?

Social Media Experiments, Part II

image from Pixabay.com

My first post of the year was about exploring some of the multitude of social media platforms to see what works best for my work and my interests.

I’ve kept expanding on those experiments, and here are results from January to the end of May. In general, I’m irritated by the way platforms attack anything that is not their platform, yet continue to share/copy posts from the disparaged sites. I don’t want to hear about what’s wrong with Twitter when I’m on a different platform; that’s why I’m not on Twitter in that moment. I don’t want to see Twitter posts screenshot on another platform. If I want to see a Twitter post, I will go on Twitter. Cultivate your own garden and stop gossiping about the neighbors.

Again, this has to do with MY work and interests, not those of clients. I’m not doing social media work for clients at this time. There are also platforms I choose not to be on or haven’t heard about.

Here’s the update:

Bluesky:  is now live. Even though I signed up as a beta the first week it was announced, I have not received an invite, which is not surprising. I’m not a big enough name to garner early usage. That, however, is a red flag for me. If they’re curating invitations by name recognition, it is probably not the right place for me, on any level. I want something with a more level and more interesting playing field. Unfortunately, if that’s where my audience migrates, I will have to, eventually, get on there. So far, most of what I hear about it is negative. Yet many migrate there anyway. Then, there’s the report that Dorsey’s endorsed RFK Jr. for President. (head desk).

Bookbub: I have not put in the time I need to put in on this platform yet. I hope to do better this summer. I’m missing opportunities.

Cohost: In January, I took one day per week to spend more time on the platform. It confirmed that the members have different interests than I do, or that I explore in my work. The lack of interaction got more and more frustrating. Posting just to post doesn’t do it for me. The ratio of time:payoff wasn’t there to create unique content for the platform, and I don’t post WIPs (why post subpar work AND blow first rights)? By mid-January, I stopped posting regularly for the last two weeks for the month. In February, I only posted the #28Prompts on the site, just to see if a single type of content performed better. There was zero interaction. I haven’t deleted my account, but I haven’t been on the platform since early March.

CounterSocial: It continues to be a good place for in-depth conversation, although there are ebbs and flows of screamers and trolls. As I said in January’s post, they usually weed themselves out when they are attention-starved, or do something to get bounced. There’s a lot of focus on music, and sometimes conversations feel a little cliquish, but there are also some good conversations I don’t have elsewhere. It tends to drive traffic more to the blogs than the serials. I get the highest response to pieces on the garden and on food. The last month or so, interaction has tapered off, and I’m wondering if people are migrating elsewhere.

Creative Ground: I updated my profile, but I’m not utilizing it to its full potential.

Ello: This was a favorite platform, with the highest rates of views and click throughs. The other creators I found on it are pretty wonderful, too. However, I started having log-in issues back in March, and have not been able to get into the platform.

Facebook: This site is a necessity I don’t particularly enjoy. I originally went on it because it’s the only social media certain people with whom I want to stay in touch use. As I expanded into Kindle Vella serials, FB is vital, with their various reader and author groups, to getting eyes on the serials and expanding their reach. Also ads that run on Facebook and Instagram result in sales. Therefore, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Hive: I’m really frustrated by Hive’s limitations. It demands high visual content, which I can’t do unless I can work on the laptop. But the app only works on a phone (which I don’t want) or sort of works on the tablet, where I don’t have access to my graphics. It’s working for those who bring with them a large following from another platform, and who have high tech phones that can do the graphics work, from what I see. I’d like to be more involved there, but forcing me to place it on devices I don’t want to work on means I can’t. It’s like being stuck in traffic, and you can see the really fun party down the road, but you can’t actually join it. I tried to post #28Prompts on there, but couldn’t get into it half the time, and gave up.

Instagram: I’m having more fun with this platform, although I’m annoyed I can no longer cross post with Twitter, only FB. It makes me think in terms of visual shares, rather than just verbal. It’s still what I consider my “fun” account, mostly cats, garden, cooking, books. But I do post ads for the serials and for The Process Muse on it, and drives traffic to both.

Ko-fi: I cut back on this, because the time:money ratio wasn’t working for me. I am going back to put some content behind a paywall (so it won’t be scraped for AI) and will consider how I want to use the platform moving forward.

LinkedIn: Continues to be useless for what I do.

Mastodon: At first, there was a huge influx from Twitter. But people got frustrated with the learning curve and different codes of conduct on different instances, and a bunch of them left. The ones who stayed are interesting, though, and I’m having fun with conversations. I’ve had a lot of fun playing #WritingWonders, and I’ve had good conversation with writers, screenwriters, various industry professionals, fiber artists, photographers, visual artists, etc. It’s harder to find people, but once you do, there’s the capacity for conversation. Again, some of the interaction has tapered off, and it doesn’t drive traffic to the serials (many people are highly anti-Amazon on the platform).

Pinterest: I’m in the process of putting up Legerdemain’s episode graphics up. They changed the way the boards are accessed, and I’m having trouble re-learning it. Again, I’m not utilizing the platform’s full potential.

Post: The more time I spend on the site, the more I like it. It’s difficult to get interaction, but not so difficult to get eyes on content. It drives traffic well back to the sites, the serials, The Process Muse, and individual articles. I think it’s one of those where things build slowly. It’s a very calm site, and some people think it’s bland, but there’s the chance to read a wide variety of material there, and take one’s time so doing.

Ravelry:  I have not been on the site in months. I made the mistake of downloading a pattern and was put on a mailing list that sends me 20-30 emails a day; when I “unsubscribe” they just change the name on the sender. It’s caused a lot of problems in that inbox and will take weeks to unravel (no pun intended).

Spoutible: Early on, I was rather skeptical of the platform, but the more I use it, the more I like it. There’s a wide range of users across a wide range of interests. It’s easy to find people, follow, and interact. There’s decent and building interaction on the platform. I’m leery of a specific core group who attacks anyone who disagrees with management’s decisions. To me, that is behaving like what they claim to protect against. And yet, the site overall is developing its own personality and settling into a mellower and more conversational vibe, which I enjoy.  I’m steadily building a community there, and having some good conversations. There seems to be more room for an artist community there than on some of the other sites that skew toward politics and only politics. It had a steady build in engagement over the past few months, and drives traffic to the other sites.

Substack:  The newsletter is growing more slowly than I would like, but it’s steady. I have good conversations, and there’s such a wealth of fantastic material that it’s difficult to keep up. I’ve started reading the other newsletters to which I subscribe as palate-cleansers when I shift tasks, which helps. I absolutely love the “Notes” feature, and have had some lively and interesting conversations there. This has the largest community of writers and artists of the platforms I’m exploring, which is why I enjoy it so much.

T2: This is supposedly a new platform created by ex-Twitter engineers. I signed up on the waiting list to beta test and have heard nothing. Perhaps they changed their minds, once Bluesky launched.

TikTok: I bit the bullet and started a TikTok account in May. The challenge I’m enjoying is creating short, engaging videos without putting myself on camera. I’m frustrated that I have to do edits for sound credits on my phone rather than on the desktop, and even more frustrated that one can only edit a sound credit once, and what posts still isn’t correct or what I put in the edit line. I’ve created introductory videos about my work, and, right now, use it primarily for the serials. I have introductory videos up for the serials, and then I have templates into which I pop the information for each new episode. It’s definitely driving traffic to the serials at the moment. As I work on other creative projects this summer (and once I get my new camera), I will play with more types of videos and see what I can come up with (still remaining off camera).

Tribel: I find that waaaay too many members follow to get someone to follow back, then unfollow. And too many people have no profile information and/or no original posts. Again, similar to Twitter, it’s about algorithms. Since I started on the platform, it’s more about politics and less about art (and the impact the arts can and do have on politics and all aspects of life). I got increasingly frustrated with the platform, even after trying to spend more time on the platform to find more colleagues. In February, I only posted the #28Prompts. By early March, I rarely went on it anymore. Too much screaming, not enough conversation.

Tumblr: In January’s roundup, I forgot to mention Tumblr, even though I’ve had an account there for years. It automatically cross posts from some of the blogs, and then I visit it to drop the newest links to the serials. When Twitter started flailing, there was an influx, and it looked like it was going to get wider engagement, but that’s scaled back. I still post steadily and visit a few times a week, trying to engage more.

Twitter: Twitter just makes me sad, most of the time, now, so I spend less time on it. I’m sick of people demanding free administrative labor by others on their accounts, claiming they “can’t tell” if anyone “sees” their tweets. No, I am not doing your hoop jumping because you are too lazy to go through your follower list. Fuck off. And the amount of “faux engagement questions” that people have no intention of engaging, but just ask something to get a high rate of responses irritates me. I’m blocking a lot faster than I used to, and that helps a lot. I locked my account in May, because there were too many trolls, which has hurt engagement and traffic. Also, a good portion of my audience is no longer on Twitter. The fact that I can no longer directly post from WordPress or from Insta is a big minus. However, with the WGA Strike going on, it’s the primary source of discussion with other writers affected by the strike. It’s frustrating. Also, they want me to “choose” which kinds of ads I want, and interrupt postings to try to force it. I don’t want any of the dumbass ads on there now, so I just close out and then go back in. I’m constantly trying to decide if it’s worth spending time there, or if it’s such a dumpster fire, I need to leave at the end of the strike. I block probably 50-60 right wing trolls per day right now.

I’m trying to streamline the way I create and post on the various sites, since none of the schedulers (Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.) give me access to all the platforms I need, and I’m not paying for a service that doesn’t let me do what I need to do. I would rather carve out a 4-hour block once a month and schedule all the serial posts, and then be able to connect the blogs to every platform on which I want to share them, but everyone wants exclusivity without giving enough in return.

I suspect I will cut back on more platforms between now and the end of the year. In the summer, I’m going to buy some paid advertising for the serials, and we’ll see what kind of effect that has on sales. If it works and I’ve picked the right platform, that will be my focus. To be rude and blunt, as much as I enjoy hanging out and having conversations, if it’s not also driving traffic and boosting sales, I can’t put my time there. I have to place my time on sites that give me both the social aspect and drive traffic to my sites, leading to increased sales.

I’ll do another post either near the end of the year, or early next year, updating the changes from now through the end of the year.

All of this underlines that your own website as basecamp is more important than ever.

What conclusions have you come to from your social media experimenting?

Basecamp: Your Website

image courtesy of anurag kaushik  via pixabay.com

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: whether your profession is corporate, creative, or a mix, you need a website.

As a consumer, if I click on a link to a business and it takes me to a Facebook page instead of a website, I am deeply suspicious. If it has a domain name that leads me back to that Facebook page, I’m out. I am not spending money at that business.

Case in point: I spent over a year in my new location searching for a salon where I could get a good haircut. It took that long because most of the places around here only have a Facebook page, not a website. That’s not a business I trust.

It went beyond the “businesses” only having a social media page; most of them didn’t update it regularly.

Again, you are running a business. Part of that is a need to communicate.

If you believe you have enough clients and don’t need anymore. Good for you. And let’s hope none of them die or move.

One of the salons I considered, in another town, had a lovely website. I tried to use the online booking tool, which was “temporarily unavailable.” I used the contact form to ask how to go about booking an appointment, and how far out they usually book. That was in early February. We’re at the end of March, and I still haven’t heard back.

That is not good business. I will not place my money there.

Answer your email.

The salon I finally chose had a clean, easy to navigate site, online booking, and responded quickly to questions. When I arrived, the tone was a friendly and efficient and stress-free as the website. I got the best haircut and style I’ve had since I left New York, and will use them again.

Since many businesses are pretending the pandemic is over, so that they can force people back to work in unsafe conditions, they don’t get to use the pandemic as an excuse for not doing something as basic as answering email.

Demands for instant response are not appropriate, especially to a small business. But expecting a response within two to three business days is more than reasonable, in most circumstances.

With social media in turmoil right now, it’s even more important to have your own website. When you create an account on social media, the space belongs to THEM. They can kick you off, lock you out, or go out of business themselves. You have much more control over your website, and it can grow the way YOU want it to, not within someone else’s restrictions.

Purchase a domain name.

This is basic. You buy the name of your website (and try to keep it simple and relevant). That way, you own the domain name, and you renew it every year. I use Name Silo. They are reasonably priced and reliable. They are quick to answer questions and help you.

Find the Right Webhost for you.

You rent space, annually, from your webhost to park your domain. It is a different fee. Often, if you purchase multiple years at a time when you sign up, you can get a deep discount. Always read what the renewal rate is, even if you get a discount. That’s how you can figure if that webhost is compatible with your budget.

My needs include:

–Hosting multiple domains and subdomains

–WordPress capacity

–unlimited email accounts

I have had some awful experiences with webhosts. I’m with A2Hosting right now, and am happy with them more often than not. Their customer service is usually excellent, and they’ve either pointed me to the right information or walked me through the steps to do what I needed to do.

Keep Your Registration Separate from Your Host

As stated above, my domain registrations are with Name Silo. My host is A2. If and when I decide to move hosts, all I need to do is sign up with the new host and point the domain to that new host. (It’s a few more steps than that, give yourself a couple of hours to get the unlock codes and all the rest, but if the host won’t migrate you, it’s not hard).

I learned, the hard way, that if the webhost holds the domain registration, then they can hold your site hostage if you try to move hosts. That happened to me two hosts before A2, and it was a nightmare to untangle it all.

Back Up Your Site

At the very least, back up your text, and have a file with your photos.

Especially if you use a host-specific template, and drag and drop, rather than building on WordPress or Divi or Elementor, if you move hosts, you will lose your setup. But if you’ve saved your text and photos, you can rebuild (and better) on your new host.

It’s Okay to Go Simple

A simple landing page with information, address/hours (if appropriate) and some eye-catching graphics is all you need. Make sure your contact information is easy to find. A way to contact you via your website is vital.

Make It Easy for People to Contact You – and Respond in a Timely Manner

Have a contact form and/or an email address connected to the site. Then check it regularly and respond to legitimate emails.

If/When You Can Afford It, Hire a Developer/Designer

As your site and business grow, once you can afford it, hire a professional to make it look its best. Also pay them to teach you the basics to keep it updated, if you don’t want to pay a retainer to a webmaster.

Update It Regularly

Keep it fresh and relevant.

If you use WordPress, there’s usually a “posts” page where you can add fresh content or run your blog. I prefer to keep some of my blogs separate from my websites, but they were established while I was still with the host who controlled both my registration and websites and held them hostage. That’s no longer an issue. This blog is part of my website. Ink in My Coffee is separate from the flagship Devon Ellington Work website, but it’s been running for nearly 19 years, and it doesn’t make sense to move it.

Share on Social Media

Share the site on your social media channels, so people can find you.

If you write articles or guest posts, or work on projects, make sure you send your traffic back to your website. The website is always a stronger choice than a social media channel, although the two can feed each other.  Your website is a growing, changing, exciting part of your business, and will last far longer than most social media companies! Everything you do should lead to and from your website.

How do you use your website? Is it time for a refresh? Or is it time to build your basecamp?

Spring Refreshers

image courtesy of Kerstin Riemer via pixabay.com

It’s spring.

Well, sort of. Here in the Berkshires, we have 60 degrees one day and snow the next. But there’s a potential for spring.

Spring motivates a desire to clean house and freshen things up. As you do this to your physical space, don’t forget to do that to your virtual space, too. What should you do and how?

Websites

Visit your websites as though you were a stranger. Read through every page and take notes. Does the content make you want to hire this individual?

If the answer is no on any of the pages, rewrite the content on the site so that, if you were a stranger looking for someone in your field to hire, you would hire. . .you.

Take out passive language, and make it active and engaging.

Update clips, samples, portfolio pieces, rates, and the scope of your services. As our careers grow and change, we want to focus on different services at different times. Update your website to reflect that.

Are there visuals you want to add? Is there information that’s no longer relevant and you can take off? Anything you remove should be saved in a file on your computer or a flash drive, in case you need to refer to it, or put it back on.

Is your contact info updated? If you have a sign-up for any goods, services, or a newsletter, does the link work? It’s time to fix all of those.

Is it time for a website redesign? Is that something you can do yourself, or something you want to hire out? Take time to think about what you want and how you want to communicate it. But spring is a good time to refresh.

Clip File/Portfolio/Samples

Hopefully, as you’ve created new work these past months, you’ve kept samples as hard copies in your clip file, and also saved or created digital copies that you can use on your website, your online portfolio, or Google Drive.

If you haven’t, now is the time to catch up. I keep several hard copies in a file folder in my filing cabinet. I also keep digital files (PDF and .doc, where appropriate) on my hard drive, my flash drive, and my backup drive, so I can use them as needed.

I check my online portfolio to see if I need to add, remove, or rearrange my samples.

Resume(s)

At this point in the game, I have a Master CV that is about 30 pages long. It is for me, not something sent out.

From that, I’ve crafted my Freelance Resume, my Theatre Resume, and my Writing Resume, which are relevant to my work. There is some overlap between these resumes, but each is geared toward the type of work in its name.

When I moved last summer, I updated all my resumes. It’s time to take another look and do it again, especially since I’m entering a grant cycle.

What do I need to add? What’s old enough it can fall off? What’s old, be relevant and stays on?

I have a version in .doc format and one in PDF. The PDF is the one I send out.

Social Media

This is a good time to clean up social media accounts. I’m not a muter; I’m either all in with people’s facets of personality, or all out. I either follow for everything, or unfollow and/or block.

I cleaned up my Twitter feed a few weeks ago, and it was wonderful. I could have actual conversations again, and I promised myself to do this more often.

Clean up feeds/followers/posts. Decide what you want the accounts to achieve. I have a personal Twitter where you take me as I am, or bye. I have a business Twitter that’s more focused on business writing, but not to the exclusion of my integrity. 

In spite of knowing better, I have several Facebook pages for the different series I write. I have a LinkedIn account for business only.

My Instagram account is for fun. Not much book promotion; no business. It focuses on cooking, gardens, cats, travel. There have been a lot of creepy accounts showing up lately on that feed, which I’ve steadily blocked, but it’s giving me pause as to whether or not I want to remain on the platform.

Cleaning up my Pinterest pages will be a long process, probably pushed off until summer, because it’s got too many tangents right now, and I’m not using it to its full potential.

Memberships

Are there any memberships, professional organizations, or other groups in which you participate? Do you need to renew any of them? Drop out of any of them? Recalibrate your relationship with any of them? Put aside a few hours to go through all the paperwork and make those decisions.

Artist Statements/Bios

If you work in the arts and apply for jobs and/or grants, you need an artist statement. It’s a good idea to revise it at least once a year (or twice a year). As your work evolves, your need to communicate how your vision evolves.

No matter what your profession, a good bio is a must. You submit it with guest blog posts, speaking engagements, conference presentations, etc.

I try to keep three versions up to date: one at 50 words, one at 100 words, and one at 250 words. I often have to tweak the versions to align with a specific usage.

Time Now Saves Time Later

Making the time to do this cleanup now will save you time and aggravation later, as opportunities arise and you have everything you need at your fingertips.

Go forth and clean!

Ink-Dipped Advice: Intent

image courtesy of geralt via pixabay.com

At first glance, this seems like a strange post for Ink-Dipped Advice, especially since my Monday posts over on Ink in My Coffee during this cycle are about setting an intent for the week.

But in my writing and freelance business, intent, to me, matters.

What is my intent in my freelance business?

To earn a living is, of course, part of it. But how I earn it and working with which clients on which projects matters to me.

I like to work with clients who are passionate about what they do, and whose products and services make the world a more interesting, more compassionate, and better place.

My intent in working with those clients is to express their passion, joy, and unique product or service to an ever-increasing audience in a positive, engaging manner.

My skills as a storyteller and in theatre/film production translate to the “mission-specific entertainment” I talk about elsewhere on this site help me wrap the client message into an intriguing story with enchanting characters that gets the audience interested.

Because I believe social media is a conversation and not a bulletin board, when I create social media campaigns for clients and provide the response/follow-through, I build on the actual campaign posts with engagement and conversation. Interaction is, in my opinion, THE most important component of a successful social media campaign. If you’re not going to post engaging content and then actually ENGAGE, there’s no point in being on the platform.

So, my intent is getting to know the company, help create characters and stories that best communicate their message, and increase engagement. This can translate into sales/support/business growth.

Underneath this intent is my intent to earn a living from my skills. If you’re not going to pay me and value my work, I don’t work for you. I am not creating content for you without pay as part of the interview process. Read my portfolio. As for additional portfolio samples. Don’t ask me to write for you without pay. Because that indicates you don’t value what I do, or the skills I bring to the table.

My intent is to work only with companies who treat their people well, value skills, and compensate accordingly.

What is your intent?

Ink-Dipped Advice: What Does Your Client Want?

 

This is the central question when you’re doing marketing writing or blogging or any type of work for your freelance clients.

In initial meetings, when you decided if you wanted to work together, you hopefully discussed goals and vision. Your contract should define the parameters. Now, you can get into specifics.

For a client, the next question I have is, “Who do you see as your target market?”

Because sometimes who we/they “see” as the target market isn’t necessarily the best/lucrative/realistic market. Sometimes there’s value in targeting them anyway and expanding the market. Sometimes the desired target is so far from the reality of what will appeal, that there has to be some discussion and consideration. Desiring to sell dog food to cat owners is not going to grow your business.

Stretching and expanding is great. Casting a wide net is great. But spending money in a completely wrong direction is not worth it.

Far too often, the answer is “everyone.”

Well, yes, we live in an information age. Hopefully, we can restore Net Neutrality, and get more information (and education) available to everyone.

But “everyone” is not the right target.

Who is the ideal audience?

Novelists, playwrights, diarists, bloggers, etc. often write for a specific “someone” as their “ideal” audience, even if they can’t actually give height, weight, eye color, hair color, name, etc.

When you create a marketing campaign, or are part of a team that executes one, you need to have that “ideal audience” defined.

If you work for an organization that puts on a variety of programs, the target for each may be a little difference. You want your regular attendees to feel welcomed and included, so that they look forward to returning, time and time again, and having a fresh, fun time each visit.

You also want to expand the audience — place the materials in spots so people who are interested in this type of information will come across it and get interested.

How do you do that?

Listen
We’re back to that whole listening thing we talked about last week. Listening to your client is the most important skill you have.

Listen not just to the words, but to the subtext. What’s not being said? Is there a contradiction? Why? What’s the meaning under the words? What does the body language indicate?

Ask Questions
Ask questions, get clarifications, go deeper.

Asking questions doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. It means you’re interviewing the client and digging deeper for context and depth.

Match Message to Platform
I do not agree with the often-quoted marketing advice that the same information must be on every platform and it all has to match.

The tone and the message need to be consistent. But different platforms serve different types or portions of information better.

Facebook is different from Twitter is different from Instagram is different from Tumblr is different from Ello is different from Vero is different from Dots is different from MySpace and so on and so forth.

What is the strength of each platform? What is the weakness? Use each to its best, and slot in your information in a way that works best for the platform. Yes, if you have event information that needs to be disbursed across all platforms. But as someone who uses multiple platforms, when I see ONLY the same information on each one, I resent it. To me, it means there’s an information blanket being thrown over everything, and no individuality involved.

On a social media platform, if there’s no engagement, no response when I share or comment on something, I move on pretty darn fast.

Business has de-personalized so much, to the point of not signing legal documents, because it’s easier to hurt people when you stop thinking of them as “people.” Government is doing the same. It’s part of the reason we’re in the mess we’re in, on multiple levels. De-humanizing and de-individualizing in order to make higher profit.

The way small and medium-sized businesses and organizations can compete is by re-personalizing.

When the client gets that, and is willing to pay for the time it takes to do that, the client will see an increase in profit. It grows more slowly, but it happens.

We’ll get more into de-personalizing and re-personalizing next week.

Other messages are better shared through blog posts or articles or advertorials or media kits or web content. Match your message — or the portion of your message — to the best platform.

Message Expansion Takes Time & Resources
You need the time to come up with the message and create the materials. That means uninterrupted work time, not answering the phone or sending out invoices or doing the ten other things too many small businesses try to foist on you when you sign on. (Make sure your contract defines your parameters).

You need the time to post things, or schedule things to post. I use Hootsuite when I want to schedule posts on multiple platforms, Twuffer to focus on Twitter. I like the way Twuffer pushes photos to Twitter.

Quick response time is key, especially on social media. You need engagement. It’s not about posting and expecting audience growth. You post, there’s a response, there’s engagement, it’s shared, there’s more engagement and so forth and so on.

This takes time. When you’re building a social media presence for a business, you’re not screwing around on social media. Don’t apologize or try to minimize the time or the level of engagement necessary to make it work. Don’t sell yourself short.

Be Prepared to Change Direction
Your client might decide that’s not really the message they want out there; or that it’s taking too long to pay off.

The latter is the hardest to work with. Because so much on social media is instant, clients often don’t understand that it takes months to engage and build an audience. Months of daily interaction. Try to set realistic goals for growth at the beginning. Included engagement goals. Not just getting more followers, but the amount of interactions/the quality of those interactions. Then try to exceed those goals wherever possible.

Keep Communitcating with Your Client
It’s not just about what’s working. It’s also about what’s not hitting the mark, and what might need tweaking.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Listen, listen, listen.

Communication and being sensitive to your client’s needs and desires is key to making it work in the materials and in the office.

Ink-Dipped Advice: Word Choice Matters — and Has Power

I had an interesting conversation with a client the other day. She shared that she parted ways with her previous marketing/social media person because that individual did not work with her to communicate the client’s message effectively.

Ms. Marketing Pro came in with the attitude that she knew everything and the client knew nothing. She set up a series of social media channels, used marketing buzzwords, spread identical content on all the channels, but didn’t communicate the message or the product that my client sells. When my client wanted a particular type of promotion set up, or a particular message communicated, she was told that she didn’t know what she was doing, and to leave it to the professionals.

My client was paying; the business did not grow. They parted ways.

When I started working with her last year, I tweaked the message for each content platform, aiming to use the strength and identity of each platform to its best reach. In one month, I expanded the social media reach by 86%, resulting in a 26% sales bump.

I know, as a consumer, there are certain buzzwords that turn me off. If I see something listed as a “boot camp” or a “hack” — no, thanks. I’m not interested in that. Nor do I promote my own work using those phrases. At this point, they are overused and meaningless. Plus, the choice of those terms does not effectively communicate what I want to say to people. It doesn’t give them any information about what makes my work unique.

Also, if a business has marketing materials out there that show a lack of discernment between possessive/plural/contraction, as a potential customer, I assume they’re too stupid to be worth my money, and I go somewhere else.

No, I don’t approach them and tell them their materials are full of errors and they should hire me. That would guarantee they wouldn’t. But when I meet them at a networking event, I give them my card and say, “If you’re looking to freshen up your marketing at any point, I’d like to work with you.”

As a marketing person, I have an arsenal of tools I use to spread a message, that includes web content, media kits, blogging, social media content, press releases, ad creation on multiple channels, PSAs or radio spots as appropriate, pitching articles to the media, and, again, if appropriate, event scripting or video scripting.

Not every client wants or needs all these tools.

I offer them, but I don’t tell them they “have” to use them. We work together to find the best tools to communicate the message.

One of the most important thing I can do, as a marketing person, is genuinely listen when they tell me about their business, why they’re passionate about it, and what it means to them.

By listening and getting to know who they are AS WELL AS what they want, I can help them craft their story, their message, and expand their reach in a way that is unique to their business. Sometimes that does what I call “drawing the ear” — which, to me, is as important as drawing the eye.

Sure, you want strong visuals, and you need to work with a great graphic designer.

But you also need to choose the right words to communicate your message in a way that engages rather than attacks.

When someone hard sells at me, when I feel attacked or as though my space is invaded — be it physically or emotionally — I shut down. If I’m really uncomfortable, I fight back. What I don’t do is spend money with someone who makes me feel bad.

It’s often the same societal structures that cause problems when they are transformed into sales pitches. For the women reading this, how often has a male salesperson used the tactic of invading your personal space, of patronizing you, of treating you as though you should “listen to the man” in order to part you from your money? Or how often has a female salesperson used negative language to make you feel bad about something personal, and tried to convince you that only by listening to her and buying the product, can you feel better and will you change others’ negative perceptions of you (which exist in her mind, and which she tries to plant in your mind).

At this point in my life, when someone is aggressive towards me, I push back. Hard, without filters. As a potential customer, I tell them exactly why I’m not buying what they’re selling.

As a marketing person trying to shape the message, I do my best to:

–listen to the client
–offer suggestions to shape the message for different platforms
–communicate the message in a way for a positive reception by the target audience
–offer options and a variety of strategies, so if one thing doesn’t bring return, we have something else ready to launch

That means choosing words with care.

Just because a marketing Pooh-bah says this is “the” way to present something doesn’t mean it is.

Wanting to cast a wide net doesn’t mean use bland language. If anything, you need to be more specific in word choices.

You want to create a positive, sensory response. So choose words to evoke positive sensations.

Sight, sound, taste, touch, smell.

The five senses evoke emotions.

What kind of emotions do you want to evoke in your audience?

Taste and smell are closely related, as are sight and touch (or texture).

Use active language — verbs rather than adverbs, and avoid passive or past perfect as much as possible. “have been eating” is weaker than “eat” or “ate.”

Use specific adjectives and avoid overused tropes. If someone tells me it’s a “bold” wine, it means little to me, other than I expect a vinegary aftertaste. If they tell me it’s a “deep red with plum, cherry, and chocolate tones” — now I have sight, texture, taste, and scent cues. Not only that, but I expect a deeper sound when it pours into the glass.

My favorite medium is radio. One of the reasons I love to work on radio dramas or radio spots is that I choose specific sounds to drive the story and character. I love that challenge because the more specific I am, the better I communicate with the audience.

Individuals will receive the specifics within their own frame of reference. You won’t please everyone. An individual may have a negative association with a specific detail you and your client choose.

In my experience, I’ve found that those are rare, and more people will respond positively to compelling sensory detail than to vague marketspeak. Overused marketing terms always makes me feel like the seller is trying to get my money for snake oil, and I’d rather put my money elsewhere.

More and more people are practicing conscientious consumerism, choosing where and how they shop to align with their values. I think that’s great. I want people who align their wallets and their ethics to connect with my clients.

Here’s an exercise for anyone who reads this to try, be they a marketing person, a business owner, a consumer: For one week, only speak and write in specifics. Remove vague language from all your interactions. Keep track of it.

You will notice a remarkable difference in the level of communication.

What are your favorite ways to choose the best language when you work with clients, or as you communicate your business?

Ink-Dipped Advice: Social Media Expansion

Social media is a great tool as long as you use it rather than it using you. But that’s a different conversation!

We’re so used to Facebook and Twitter that we forget there are other types of social media out there, and perhaps some of them might be a better platform for your work.

I have grown increasingly frustrated with Facebook lately. I don’t know which will happen first — that they decide I did something against their ever-changing policy, which is set up to hurt small businesses and individual authors in favor of mega corporations — or that I get so frustrated I delete my account and all my pages.

I spend too much time on Twitter, but I use Twitter for different things. Most of my political activism is via Twitter — when I’m not writing or in the offices working with my duly elected officials on many levels. Some of them appreciate it. Some of them are sick of me. Too bad for them.

But I also use Twitter to hang out and explore other interests and connect with people in arts of all disciplines, and all over the world. Many more conversations and inspirations begun on Twitter have translated well to actual life than on Facebook.

I’ve also landed some of my highest paid gigs on Twitter — and many of them have been BECAUSE I’m socially and politically active. So when someone tells you that standing up for what you believe in on Twitter will kill your chances for a job, tell them where to stuff it. If a job doesn’t want you  because you take your responsibilities as a citizen, as part of the social contract, seriously — it’s not a place you want to work.

In any case, I’ve been exploring other social media platforms, and I’m sharing what I’m learning. I use “learning” because it is and will be an on-going process.

In addition to my own social media needs, I often handle social media platforms for my freelance clients (I’m about to expand my social media package). I often try out the platform myself and then can recommend or not to a client.

This is by no means a complete list, and, as I explore new/other social media platforms, I will add them in future posts.

Linked In — I hate it. I’ve used it to track down a few people, but for my own use, it doesn’t work.

Alignable — I work on it for one of my freelance clients. I don’t think we utilize its full value. I like the idea of connecting with local businesses and recommending each other — I don’t know how effectively we’re putting it into practice. I do not have my own account on them yet, and may not.

Instagram — some of my more visually-based clients use it and like it. I don’t personally use it, because I don’t yet have a plan where it’s worth it for me. Also, it’s too tied in to Facebook for my taste. It’s only done via a phone app, and I resent being forced to interact that way, without the option for computer use.

Tumblr — I’m still getting the hang of it. I use it personally, and am starting to like it more. I use it for several clients. They feel they “should” be on it; none of them are in love with it.

Ello — I love it, for me personally. I love being around creatives who are working on their crafts. I don’t see it as a marketing platform; I see it more as we’re inspiring each other and learning from each other. It’s a relief after all the ad-centric stuff that’s going on.

Vero — I’ve had so much trouble with this platform, I’m ready to give up on it. I’d heard good things about it. But if I have trouble, my clients who are less tech-savvy than I am won’t be able to do it. I also resent I can only do it from my phone. I don’t want to live my whole life via apps. Their support people have been as nice as can be, but it’s going on a week and the problem isn’t solved yet. And the problem is basic sign-up.  Not impressed.

Triberr — just signed up. It looks interesting. I have discovered some blogs I like a lot that I might not have otherwise found. I hope I will be able to make actual connections, and it’s not just about clicking and moving a post on.

I’m about to experiment with Mix (which used to be StumbleUpon), About. me and Fuel My Blog. I had several questions for the last on that list, and have not yet heard back, so we’ll see.

As far as online portfolios, I like Contently, but that’s different than social media. I will probably do a separate post about that down the road.

I will report back when I have something worthwhile to say.

I hope you’re all taking the Labor Holiday — you’re earning it!