Welcome to task 5 of the Basics of Author Online Presence Challenge. To catch up on previous tasks, go here.
Today, we’re adding to your online presence.
Unlike Twitter, Google+ is a lot trickier to navigate and figure out. Don’t worry, though: once you get the hang of it, it gets a lot easier.
To start: create your gmail account. It’s the only way to get access to a Google+ account. Besides, this can be your official writing email account: you can have all your writing newsletters go there, you can use it to submit to literary magazines, literary agents, etc. So keep your gmail account professional (preferably your name) – no “crazy writer” or something like that. Your email address is the first thing people will see about you and you want to make a good impression.
Now you have access to everything Google.
How to set up your Google+ account.
Follow the instructions on-screen to set up your account. They are quite straightforward.
Now to optimise your account:
- Upload your author photo. This is to make sure everyone knows that they’ve found the right you (you’re using the same photo across all social media).
- Use your author name. The point is to get name recognition, remember?
- Use that sentence to describe yourself from Day 2 as your tagline. You can change it a bit like you did for Twitter (though, don’t use any hashtags). Why? People want to know who’s following them and who they’re following.
- Link to your blog and Twitter accounts (there’s a special feature when you update your profile to do this). Remember to add any new social media networks you join.
- Set your profile to public. We talked about this during Task 4: you want people to be able to connect with you.
- Change the banner/header image. It should reflect your brand (see Task 2).
- Join niche specific communities. You’re a writer, so join writing communities. Some are huge, some expect you to apply before joining, some are small and growing: but they all expect you to follow their rules.
How to use Google+.
Your account looks pretty and everyone knows that they’re interacting with the real you. But how do you interact?
You share your blog posts. You share interesting articles and writing tips. You share the content of others.
By following these steps:
- Add the link according to instructions. You can change the picture with the arrows on it. (We’ll get to why you should have images in your blog posts later in the challenge, but here’s a hint: people like posts with images more than those without.)
- Use _italics_ or *bold* for the title of your post.
- Write a short intro about what the article is about and why people should read it (what they’re going to get out of it).
- Use hashtags (#writetip #amwriting).
- Add the author’s Google+ handle (if they’re on Google+). E.g. start with +Ronel and the rest will be auto-filled – just make sure you pick the right +Ronel Janse van Vuuren, for there are many. (That’s where using the same author photo everywhere helps.)
- Share it with a group.
Don’t be that person who shares the same post multiple times on the same day with different groups. Google will mark it as spam. Group moderators will mark it as spam. And chances are good that you’ll get kicked out of several groups for doing that.
Rather share your blog posts publicly immediately after posting them (I find there’s more engagement if you do this manually, because you get the chance to add info at the start about why this is an awesome post people should read). Set up a schedule to share this post later in the month with a group, next month with another group and so on. It won’t look like spam – you have other posts on your home page between the first posting and the next – and you’ll still enjoy the benefits of sharing your own blog posts.
But don’t be that person who only shares their own content. To build relationships in the groups, share stuff that will help them. Like the link to a writing challenge with the reasons they should join in.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it.
Google loves its own stuff best, so by sharing your blog posts on Google+ you’re improving your SEO (we’ll talk about search engine optimisation later in the challenge) and the chances of people finding your blog in the sea of blogs dramatically increases.
Making friends on Google+.
Just like you should be reading the blogs of other authors and follow them there, you should make connections on Google+. It’s as easy as following someone on Twitter. You’ll see their posts when you’re on their page, you’ll easily find their other social media networks on their profile (if they’ve added them) and you can recommend stuff to them by using their username (just like on Twitter).
Now, Google+ makes it easy to sort the people you follow into circles (groups). Friend? Following? Reader? What? Just choose and sort. That way you can decide with whom you want to share specific information. Hosting a book giveaway? Your writing friends might be vaguely and politely interested, but your readers will clamour for more info. So send it to the right circle (group).
The best part? No-one knows how you’ve sorted them.
You can also use Google Hangouts to chat to your readers/writing buddies. (It’s a lot like Skype and other such services.) I know a lot of writers who use this to get closer to their readership.
Oh, after a certain amount of posts, Google+ will give you the option to create a custom URL (so far for free) for your Google+ profile. I highly recommend this. Add something to your name (which is your URL) to stand out. I added “mythmaker” to echo my blog’s name.
There’s a lot to know about Google+ – and all the other apps that go with it – but this is all you really need to know for now. You can always go and explore on your own 😉 And when you get stuck for ideas, check out my profile.
I know that it seems confusing and like unnecessary work, but being on Google+ is beneficial for your blog. Trust me, I know how it feels when a social media network doesn’t seem to be working out. I tried for months to figure out Google+.
But I didn’t give up. I tried and tried and finally succeeded. Now my blog posts are everywhere…
Who knows what the next big thing will be? Remember MySpace? No? That was before Facebook. It was hugely popular. And it disappeared overnight, replaced by other networks like Facebook (we’ll look at Facebook during the challenge).
Someday a network yet-to-be-created might be the next big thing. But for now, you have to be on Google+ if you want your blog’s SEO to grow.
Did you create your Google+ account? Did you connect your blog and Twitter account to your Google+ profile? Did you fill in your profile like I suggested? Great stuff. Did you try to post a blog post using the tips above? Fun! Remember to do that regularly. Share your Google+ profile page URL in the comments with how you’re experiencing the challenge thus far. You can also tweet about it using #AuthorOPChal and you can also blog your progress (share that on all your new social media networks with the challenge hashtag).
Author: Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Ronel writes dark fantasy filled with mythology and folklore, some of which can be read on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. When not leading her Rottweiler pack or arguing with her characters, she’s writing award-winning fiction.