I have always been a pen-and-paper kind of guy when it comes to my poetry and occasional prose. However, it would be very naïve to think that the Internet has not had a profound impact on writing. Additionally, it would be foolish for any writer to discredit the Internet as a valuable resource for development and success.
That's right: Resistance is futile.
For those of us looking for feedback and exposure for our writing, we have something to benefit from using the Internet. In this article, I will focus on the basics behind the two most important Internet tools out there for writers: Blogging and Social Networking. Since there are so many other valuable uses for the Internet, I will be focusing on topics such as self-publishing in future articles.
Blogging has been around for a little while now. Blogging allows you to create your own web space in which you can post writing and thoughts to anyone else online. Some of the well-known blog websites around are Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress, although many others exist. The reason blogging is so valuable to writers is that you can both solicit feedback on your writing as well as gain a following simply by becoming an active part of the blogging community.
My suggested simple approach to blogging is to:
1. Join a blog site (Blogger.com, Tumblr.com, WordPress.com, etc.).
2. Design your blog. This just means filling out whatever information you want anyone who visits your blog to see as well as selecting a visual template that suits you.
3. Interact with other bloggers! Find other blogs that interest you and make meaningful comments.
4. Upload your own writing or thoughts to your blog and solicit feedback from others. Thank those who follow you and those who comment on your posts.
Once you get the hang of blogging, you will start figuring out how blogging works for you. That being said, the one piece of advice I can give from many, many years of blogging is that you should always be genuine. It is more than obvious when someone involved in a discussion is simply trying to promote his or her own work. Being genuine is essential to maintaining credibility.
Social networking is a little newer than blogging. Most people will agree that there are two giants in social networking: Facebook and Twitter.
Started only seven years ago, Facebook has amassed over 500 million users. Facebook allows you to interact with friends, family, and other Facebook users. It also offers quite a lot of potential exposure for your writing! It allows you to post updates on current writings, blog posts, and any other thoughts you wish to share. Other people can "Like" your Facebook page and you can amass quite a following.
My suggested simple approach to setting up a Facebook page is to:
1. Sign up for Facebook under the Artist, Band, or Public Figure Category. As opposed to a regular Facebook account, this will allow other users to "Like" your page.
2. Upload a picture of yourself, include a short description, and link to any other websites you have (hopefully a blog!).
3. Post useful and entertaining links as well as updates about your own writings. I suggest posting an update somewhere between once a day and once a week. More than once a day will overload your subscribers, however you don't want to post so infrequently that they forget about you.
4. Link to your Facebook page from your blog and any other websites you have.
5. Interact! Along the same vein as blogging, find Facebook pages of other users and comments. Again, be genuine and do not constantly self-promote.
You will also want to sign up for a Twitter account. Twitter allows you to interact with others in short (140 character-or-less) messages. This character limitation can be surprisingly entertaining, and often leads to enjoyable quips, quotes, and advice.