LinkedIn for writers

The mention of LinkedIn probably sends your mind to “that’s a site for people who need jobs,” or something along those lines.

It’s actually a very powerful networking tool that offers a lot for writers and I’d like to offer it to you for consideration. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re multi-published; whether you write fiction or non-fiction; whether you write long or short, LinkedIn can help you improve your craft and make connections.

Groups and resources on LinkedIn include (this is nowhere near an extensive list, just examples):

Asking questions in the “Writing and Editing” category. Ask any question you want and people will reply.

LinkedIn question and answer screen sample

You don’t have to belong to any groups to ask questions in this general forum.

Join one or more groups. There are groups specifically for writers – some are open and anyone can view, post, and comment in them. Other groups are closed and you have to become a member to view, post, and comment.

As of Jan 16, doing a search for groups related to “writing” results in 1,929 groups. A search for groups on the word “writers” results in 2,384 possibilities. “Magazine writing” has 18 possible groups to choose from. “Fiction writing” gives 50 results (example below).

Screen capture of fiction writing groups

Here is a close up of the details at the bottom of the first group in the above snapshot – the Creative Designers and Writers group listing:

details of LinkedIn group

You can see how many discussions were active the prior day, how many jobs were posted (some groups allow job postings), the group owner’s name (which is clickable so you can view his profile), and how many members are currently in the group.

Search terms are unlimited and the more specific you can get, of course, the more relevant your returned searches will be.

Joining groups is a great way to meet other writers who share your interests, find potential work if you freelance, and improve your writing skills by sharing with others.

You can search for people with the same search terms you use when searching for groups.

LinkedIn example of a people search

People are ranked based on keywords (which I can talk about in another post). This is a great way to connect with other writers in your field or area of interest. It’s a way to find authors you might like to read, writers who have similar experience as you.

These are just a few examples of the power of LinkedIn and how you can connect with writers, literary agents, publishers, newspapers, magazines, and so much more.

If you’re on LinkedIn already, feel free to send me a connect request. Let me know you saw this post. Have you found it helpful?

If you aren’t on LinkedIn yet, I hope you give it a shot. It’s free to sign up.

Lisa Jackson is an independent editor, writer, New England region journalist, and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom which is now a 5-time winner of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers, where she gets to chat with best-selling authors, non-fiction writers, publishers, and other writing professionals on a weekly basis.

Solace & Hope

            On Sunday, August 28, Irene cried on my village, destroying whole sections of it. Gratefully, no life has been lost, but friends’ and neighbors’ homes have been washed away – along with their land and belongings. Roads are gone, bridges broken. I suffered no property damage, but I am changed by the devastation – and I’m not just talking about the inconvenience of closed roads.

Since the storm, I’ve been doing what I can for local relief. As always, in times of crisis I resort to my two mainstays: food and words. By Tuesday, I’d organized potluck dinners at our community hall, where those with power could bring covered dishes and those without power could eat hot food. We held four of these dinners last week. Others have organized a daily hot breakfast at the hall.

           Not only do we feed people at these meals, but we also gather and disseminate information at them. All of us – those who lost nothing, those who lost all and those somewhere in between these extremes – take comfort not just from the food, but also from the fellowship that is part of helping one another in time of need. We need to see and hear and reassure each other that life will go on, we will continue, we’ll get through this – and be stronger for it.

I may have started the potluck dinners, but others have stepped up to do the heavy lifting, from working the phones for food donations to cooking, serving, and washing up after. By Irene-plus-five, it became clear that we were emerging from our shock and starting to adjust to this new normal of a drastically changed landscape and vastly different civic circumstances. By then, I’d already filed a Commentary for Vermont Public Radio. But we needed more. We needed poetry.

I’ve been gathering, printing and posting poems for public consumption. Because we don’t just need food, shelter and clothing. We also need poetry to soothe our souls and give us ‘that thing with feathers’ – what Emily Dickinson called Hope.

Deborah Lee Luskin often writes about Vermont, where she has lived since 1984. She is a commentator for Vermont Public Radio, a Visiting Scholar for the Vermont Humanities Council and the author of the award winning novel, Into The Wilderness. For more information, visit her website at www.deborahleeluskin.com

Make Your Blog More Engaging – Part 3

In the first two parts of this series, we covered identifying features and social graces. This installment is all about blogging “side orders” – all those widgets and extras that live, typically, in the sidebar of your blog.

First, in case you have no idea what a “sidebar” is, it’s the area of your blog – usually on the right-hand side of the page – that lives off to the side of your main content area. This is where visitors to your blog will automatically look for certain information about you and your writing. There are dozens of different things you can put in this space; deciding which ones to use can be confusing. There are, however, a core set of tools that can help you boost engagement with your blog and your brand around the web. Here’s my list of faves in order of priority (top to bottom on your blog page) and what they can do for your readers:

Help readers connect with you: Before anything else, give people an easy way to friend/follow you and subscribe to your blog and/or newsletter. You can get all the details in part 2 of this series, but the basic idea is to give readers one-click access to staying in touch with you.

Make readers an offer: If you’ve got something to sell or give away, don’t bury it! Have you published a book? Feature an image of the book with a link to your indie or Amazon page. Do you have a downloadable e-book? Put the image, a brief descriptor, and link front and center. Do you offer coaching, editing, or some other service? Write up a little blurb with a link to an offer-specific page on your site.

Welcome new readers: First-time visitors to your blog will want to know what you’re all about. In addition to the identifying features we talked about in part 1 of this series, you can give newbies a customized list of posts and pages that will act as a virtual tour of your blog and help them get to know you quickly. This is often labeled as the “start here” content and can include links to everything from your about page, a custom welcome message page, to your all-time top posts.

Keep readers up-to-date: Do you participate in real-world or virtual events like readings, classes, webinars, book signings, etc? Dedicate some of your sidebar space to highlight upcoming events with links to more information, registration pages, etc.

Encourage readers to dig deeper: In most cases, a new visitor to your blog will have arrived there because one of your posts attracted her attention. Once you have her on your site, you want to encourage her to explore more of your writing. For your sidebar, you can use “recent posts” and “recent comments” feeds to provide a snapshot of your most current topics and where people are engaging in conversation. “Most popular posts” is another common feed that features posts with the most visits or comments. Many blog themes come with these tools built-in, but there are also various widgets that will perform the function for themes that don’t include the functionality. Another popular tactic for getting readers to engage with you is to import your Twitter feed to your sidebar. This will take readers off your blog, but it has the benefit of engaging them on an additional platform. Finally, though not technically a sidebar tool, the “More posts like this” plug-in is another great way to gently lead people further into your site. Available in a variety of formats, the purpose of this tool is to serve up links (and sometimes image thumbnails) to other posts on your site that might be relevant to the post the reader just read. These links appear at the bottom of your posts and make it easy for readers to “hop” from post to post.

There are many (many!) more widgets, plug-ins, and tools that you can use in your sidebar, but these are some of the most effective for getting readers to engage more actively with your content (and you!). Although they can be interesting, I shy away from lengthy blog rolls, photo streams, badges, and tag clouds. I prefer to focus on side orders that will give my readers a way to actively participate in my community or interact with my content. Give these tools some real estate on your blog and you’ll be all that and a side of fries!

What are your favorite ways to encourage engagement with side orders? Have you had success with any of these tools on your own blog? Have you used these tools as a reader of someone else’s blog? 


If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can find them here:

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who, among other things, works as a marketing strategist and copywriter. She helps creative entrepreneurs (artists, writers, idea people, and creative consultants) discover their “natural” marketing groove so they can build their business with passion, story, and connection. She also blogs. A lot. She is a mom, a singer, and a dreamer who believes in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Look her up on facebook or follow her on twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Image Credit: waggaway

Writers’ Platform – Part 4: 4 Key Elements to Using it Wisely

This is the fourth and final installment of the Writer’s Platform series. So far, we’ve talked about the philosophy of having one, the concept of what goes into one, and the tactics of building one. Today, we’re going to touch on what to do with your writer’s platform once you’ve got it.

“In the hands of the wise, poison is medicine. In the hands of a fool, medicine is poison.”
–    Giovanni Casanova, 18th century Venetian adventurer, romancer, and alchemist

A platform is a powerful tool, but – like all powerful tools – its usefulness depends upon the operator’s expertise and wisdom. Here are four important concepts to consider as you start working with your platform.

Integration: The value of a 360 marketing plan is integration. The success of your publicity and outreach will be exponentially increased if you leverage all your channels in an organized and cohesive manner. For instance, when you publish a new blog post, you should tweet about it and also share it on Facebook. If you’re booked as a guest on a radio talk show, write a blog post leading up to and/or as a follow-up. Each opportunity you have to share your story and your work should be repurposed across your whole platform. This isn’t to say that you should publish the same content everywhere; tweak it for each format. A blog post about a speaking gig at a local conference might become a 3-minute highlight reel on YouTube. A blog series might become an Ebook. You get the idea.

List Building: One of the most valuable aspects of marketing online is the ability to “capture” the contact information of people who are interested in you and your work. Although there are many benefits to getting out in the Real World for some good, old-fashioned, face-to-face contact, the ability to establish long-term connections (via newsletter registrations, blog subscriptions, Facebook likes, and Twitter follows) is an invaluable asset. On the surface, building your audience numbers in each channel gives you some level of instant credibility. More importantly, you can now reconnect with fans, keeping them up-to-date on what’s happening with your work, where they can meet you, when your book is going on sale.

Engagement:
Once you’ve captured the interest of your audience, the fun really starts. A platform is definitely part stage, but it’s also part round table. The social Web gives us so many wonderful tools for creating two-way dialog with our audience. Use these tools wisely, and interested readers will become die-hard fans who then grow up to be evangelists for your brand.  Answer comments on your blog, respond to tweets, share what other people are saying. Give away your stage by inviting members of your audience to share your spotlight. Listen, respond, pay attention to the details.

Networking: Through the power of blogs, twitter, Facebook, and forums, you can connect to almost anyone – other writers, fans, mentors, even people in high places. Pay attention to where people are hanging out. Look at who’s following who on twitter, who’s commenting on which blog, and who’s partnering up on projects. Be a network sleuth – see the connections between people and figure out where you want to join the conversation. Think about doing some guest blogging (a topic for another post) for some exposure to other people’s networks. Would you like to do a teleseminar on a specific topic? Check your network to see if there’s anyone out there you might like to work with.

This is a very high-level overview of four important concepts that can make or break your writer’s platform. Each one deserves much more exploration, but we’ll save that for another day. I hope that you at least now have a sense of how you can put your platform to work for you, and how much fun you can have with it.

Now, go forth and build your platform!

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who, among other things, works as a marketing strategist and copywriter. She helps small businesses, start-ups, artists, and authors with branding, platform development, content marketing and social media. She also blogs. A lot. She is a mom, a singer, and a dreamer who believes in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Look her up on facebook or follow her on twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Image Credit: theswedish on stock.xchng