Monday, February 10, 2014

Fostering Relationships Online

Photo Courtesy of Edie Melson
By Laurie Epps

As writers, when we first get online, we usually have an agenda when taking on social media. This is true of Edie, and myself, and every writer I've talked to online.

What are we out to prove? Usually, we just want to get our names out there, and prove to the gatekeepers that we're publishable. There's a lot more to it than that, and today we'll talk about it.

To follow along with us, consider buying my mentor's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. It's full of advice, and tips on managing your social media.
Vonda Skelton, Edie Melson, & Michelle Medlock Adams
at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference, May 2013.

When you're developing a presence online, you're really just forging relationships. These relationships are between: 

  • You ---> other writers.
  • You ---> the reader.
  • You ---> editors.
  • You ---> your agent.
The picture with the three ladies are there for a reason. Not only have they been the most influential women of my life as a writer, but all of our relationships have been forged online. 

Our relationships with other writers is at the forefront because it's the one we take for granted. If you consider writing to be a solitary endeavor, you're writing in a vacuum. Fellowshipping with other writers will keep your writing fresh. We all need each other, for encouragement. With so many types of writing out there, we can all give each other a little room.

Friends Taking a Picture
Word of caution here: 

Don't rely on family and friends for support in your writing endeavors. Though they mean well, their empty words of "that's great" won't really help your writing. Unless they are also writers, this isn't your best option.

Your most valuable relationships can be cultivated online by:

  • answering comments on your blog, Facebook page, or on your Twitter feed.
  • commenting on other writer's blogs or sites.
  • offering your readers something of value.

But how do you do that? How do you offer something of value? Here's some easy tips that I've found to be the most effective.

  • Promote someone else. This also gives credibility with your audience.
  • Celebrate other's success. Your public will view this as encouraging.
  • Don't waste people's time just to get your name out there. Make sure that what you have to say has some inherent value.
  • Keep positive. Don't ever say something negative about a person, product, or service.
  • Don't hog the stream. By that I mean don't more than 2-3 social media updates in a row. This is considered bad social media etiquette.  If you find a bunch of relevant  sources in a row, then I recommend that you use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. (These are about the same thing, and they are both systems to manage your social media in one place. I'll write about how to do this in another blog.)

What do you do to get your name out there? How do you cultivate your online relationships? Please share it with us below.

Connect Activity:

Start to build a library of quotes, questions, and comments that will engage others online. Here are some of the lists I suggest you make:

  • Quotes that have to do with the focus of your blog.
  • Open-ended questions to create a conversation with your readers and public.
  • Graphics are a huge part of social media, so build a library now.
If you can't get enough Social Media, check out Edie's Social Media Mondays column at:

Be sure to join us next week to learn about Social Media and Diminishing Returns.

Laurie Epps is a senior at Anderson University majoring in Creative Writing. Already Laurie is most published as a feature article writer, essayist, and poet. A seeker of beauty and world traveler, Laurie hopes to grow into a career in travel writing illuminating the many stories that make us human despite our differences. Currently, Laurie also has a Thoughtful Thursday column dedicated to the fine art of poetry.

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