Friday, 17 May 2013

Guest Post: Creating a Platform

Today I welcome Kevin McDonald to my blog to share some of his insights about online groups for writers.

A strong presence in the new age of social media is heralded to be an essential tool for writers to communicate with readers. As an aspiring writer, I read that one should build a platform using social media. Unsure of the exact definition of a platform, I charged ahead using my existing Facebook account in addition to creating Google+ and Twitter accounts. I already had a blog, and just thought I could use these social media sites to advertise by blog, which was centered on my work in progress, Cooking Athanasia. So off I went, writing weekly posts and spamming the crap out of the big three social media sites with links. The result: People were reading, or at least clicking on my blog (right around 30 to 40 hits on publication day), but I wasn’t really connecting with people. If anything, I was probably irritating some with four-time a day iterations of my blog link.
After a conversation with John Ward, of the G+ Writer’s Discussion Group, I thought that perhaps a different approach was in order. So I became involved in one of the G+ communities to which I belonged and stopped spamming my blog links. Instead, I began asking about their projects and offering them help and encouragement. Of course, I still talked about my project, but it came as a natural progression of conversation rather than force-feeding, one way spam transactions. By doing this, I have connected to some truly talented writers and poets from around the world who I enjoy interacting with daily. I have found that most writers don’t look at writing as something competitive and they are willing to offer constructive criticism as well as being genuinely happy for others in the community when good news stories are reported. I have found real relationships with these people on my social networks and they have enriched my journey just by being themselves. As far as my blog goes, I still try to publish weekly and I do send links on the various sites once on publication day. The result: 94 views in a single day, but more importantly, several rich conversations with my readers regarding the blog post.

More about Kevin:
image.jpegI retired from the U.S. Army in 2008, after a 23-year career. After retiring, I found a job that matched my skill set, and then I was approached by another organization offering much better compensation for virtually the same job. Taking that job was an easy decision. However, it was a new team and it failed to meet expectations, which resulted in me being laid off at the end of 2011. I had never really been forced to inventory my individual skills and desires to figure out where I excelled and what I would enjoy doing. Writing has always come easy to me and I enjoyed it, but serious writing was always on the ‘someday’ list. Someday came at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 when I figured out that writing is what I want to do. I started my work in progress, Cooking Athanasia, in December 2011 and have nearly completed it. I also wrote a 100-page screenplay during Script Frenzy in April 2012, titled Echoes from Enchantment, which is the back-story for Cooking Athanasia (it will eventually be the second book in the series). A day job found me in the spring of 2012, but I am plugging along and plan to eventually she the daily grind in favor of the glamorous life of a full-time writer.

You can follow Kevin at these links