Weekly Ramble #146

Just a few years back the concept of reaching 30,000 Twitter followers is something I would have laughed out loud at. Not anymore. And this journey has known zeros often but not today because I’ve reached that once impossible seeming milestone on the platform.

Of course and above all, this has not been a solo effort or journey. Much like all of my successes, they have been governed by others. And the help of others is what has pushed me to go further and dream bigger. I am nothing without the fantastic support of you and the now 30,000 followers who give me reason to keep going. This creative journey has been hard and every now and then it does bite me on the rear end but, the rewards are huge and this is a defining turning point.

But how? And what advice would I give to anyone looking to grow on social media as a creative? Just be open and do your best to build conversational bridges. My agenda has never really been to make money – I suppose that’s what has driven me to try and find something else and I have, conversation, support and consistency, they are just three of the many elements that make up the factors of my Twitter success. If you can offer something, someone out there will probably be motivated to take it. That and the sheer will to never ever give in, no matter what adversities I’ve faced internally and externally. Rewards come to those who work and keep going.

There is a hell of a lot more to come from me and you can expect a lot more content based on my Twitter experiences soon. For now, be sure to check out my Twitter Coaching Sessions here.

Thank you for the support!

The Twitter Bar Analogy: Creating a Nice place to be…

The majority of people enjoy nice experiences and the same can be said for most people on social media. A nice or pleasant social media experience can lead to so many possibilities from making new friends and connections, to even earning someone else’s trust or perhaps making a sale. Subconsciously and over many years, I made my social media presence across the platforms a nice place for my followers to hang out. This was also driven by how welcome I have been made to feel by so many others. Because social media is sometimes viewed in a negative light for many reasons, being pleasant tends to stand out.

I’m going to use this post to talk about Twitter in particular and how for me it compares to a bar or pub. Those who know me will also know I love an analogy! As of today my Twitter stands at nearly 30,000+ followers and it is also my primary method to sell books. Every day I am present on the platform and regularly my posts are seen by lots of people everyday. Twitter presents a wonderful opportunity for anyone to speak and find others to connect with pretty much instantly. For those of the writing persuasion, its a natural fit as Tweeting is mostly dialogue and whether you write fiction or news articles, poetry or screenplays – dialogue turns that Twitter machine.

Artwork via Pixabay

Think of your favourite bar, pub or restaurant – a place you’ve had a nice experience and would most probably return to. Now I want you to think why you enjoyed your time there and what factors made the experience worthwhile. The same can pretty much be applied to who you engage with on Twitter and how you engage with them. We’re going to look at why a good experience in a hospitality setting is similar to Twitter.

First Impressions – The Basics

Imagine if you will, the first thing you see when heading out for the evening is the venue and of course the signage for the bar/pub/place outside – for Twitter this is your profile. From your handle to profile picture, banner and pinned Tweet and recent tweets. All of this comes into account when someone has been intrigued enough to check out your profile. Much like the physical building of the bar you face, does your profile resemble what you expect a decent approachable venue to look like?

From the signage (your name, handle and bio – are they clear in what you are about?) to just the general look of the place (your profile picture and banner – are they professional looking or at least friendly/approachable in appearance while also relaying what you have to offer?) There’s a sign outside advertising two for one cocktails (your pinned tweet – does it relay what you are about? – it could be a link to your book or something recently compelling that you want an audience to know about.) You have a pinned tweet right?

All of these basic visual things are first impressions. And most of us know that first impressions are quite important. Getting the balance on all of the above is the difference between being followed or engaged with or not. Before anything else you need engagement and your profile is key to that.

Yep, that’s me trying to be artistic

Heading Inside – Conduct

Most visitors to a bar or hospitality venue will decide within the first few steps whether or not they are going to spend extended time there. In those settings there are a bunch of inputs like lighting, odour, sights, noise, décor and layout but the same can also be applied to your Twitter. This is the part where a potential follower has scrolled down your profile to check out some recent tweets.

Near enough everything on my Twitter is governed by what I tweet about and so if your subject matter and content isn’t inviting it won’t receive any engagement. I generally Tweet about something that inspires, informs, entertains, gives value or has some kind of incentive – the more of these five elements of conduct a tweet has, the better. And the best way to figure out what works is to spend time Tweeting things that include this stuff while also being approachable. Someone who has a feed full of links probably won’t get much engagement much like someone who tweets about angry stuff or heavily opinionated stuff. We want to make solid connections here who might be our customers some day or they might even help us someday or vice-versa. Keeping things relatively light most of the time will make a good impression.

So as for this bar, you’ve stepped inside to see the lighting is ambient, the layout is clear, there are no bad smells, the customers aren’t noisy or hostile and the staff are inviting. You take a seat and order some drinks which there is a nice range of (your potential follower sees your tweet subject matter which ranges, your tweets are mostly friendly and approachable). The staff check up on you every so often – not in an overbearing controlling way, but in a finely balanced non-intrusive way (you reply to people who engage with your tweets, even if it is a simple thank you – this is a major booster for many things.) If you can, try to be like good staff at a venue – above all, good hospitality staff make good hosts.

Keeping Customers Engaged – The Long Game

Now your customer has had a drink we need to keep them interested so they can spend more money (followers choosing to follow and engage with you more) – bars or restaurants will have a range of food and drink to help this and if it is of a high quality, people will stay – the same can be said about your Twitter. What are you offering your followers in order for them to stick around?

Time and incentive go hand in hand here along with conduct, remember the five elements of conduct. If you spend time on the platform, tweeting and offering incentive, you won’t ever have to worry about customers leaving after one drink (losing followers). They’ll move on to ordering food or snacks (buy your books, visit your blog, invest in you, become you friend or simply just be there beside you on the platform), some will even invite their own friends. You don’t have to give a lot to provide incentive – incentive is just another word for offering something which includes: being friendly, helping others, engaging with others, following others, retweeting other folks tweets, liking their tweets – all of this is free. Even just spreading some positive thoughts online goes a long way.

This stuff will eventually turn heads towards your profile and tweets while also building a level of trust. Any venue that provides hospitality is a success because of the overall customer experience and the same can be said about twitter. Give your followers reason to engage with you and everything else will eventually fall into place. Reputation takes time to build and being a good host will help you grow that and eventually your Twitter will be known for being a nice place – something which resonates with mostly everyone. This is a long game and one you can certainly win.

I hope this analogy helps your Twitter growth and here are some specific basics that I do frequently to grow:

Show up everyday – even if I am busy with work or social stuff, I make the effort to spend even just a few minutes responding or even scheduling a tweet or two.

Try new things constantly – I am always trying something new, from sharing something I haven’t showed anyone before to even just tweeting a lot more. Change it up until you find what works for you.

Share more important stuff later on in the day – as the day unfolds more and more people log in to Twitter so by the evening here in the UK there are several time zones in the world that are online so I’ll plug my books and blog stuff later.

Reply back if applicable/possible – replying back will boost visibility on your tweets and others will see that you are engaging and will want that also.

Keep going – yesterday might have been a slow day but the twitter machine moves quickly and every day is a new day to seize the opportunity.

Thank you for stopping by. Quite soon I shall be releasing a series of audio based coaching sessions based on my Twitter experience, you can read more about that here.

For those who want some further reading do check out the resources section which is packed full of free-to-read guides on twitter and the wider subject of book marketing.

For some further listening, on my Patreon I have an audio series based upon my Twitter experiences with a hope it will help a fellow creative. Sessions 1 and 2 are free.

Those who do sign up to my Patreon will receive regular shout-outs for them and their books/creative things via my Twitter.

Of course my journey is also laid out in guide book Consistent Creative Content which is available now on Amazon!

Weekly Ramble #140

Sometimes its good to get away from the grind and just spend a weekend away. That’s what I did this past weekend and my energy levels have been replenished from being alongside some good company. It might have been an action packed few days but one can always rest at work I guess, and being tired from weekend things is a different type of tired from work things…

My numbers are governed by a constant social media presence. Take that presence away even for just a day or so and it drops to near enough zero. The fun thing is that I know exactly what it takes to get those numbers back up, I’ve spent long enough figuring it out. The concept of social media algorithms being against the smaller person has always driven me to prove that we can defy them to get our message out there. The platforms might be the hosts, but our content drives them and that makes us needed just as much as we need them.

With March nearly being halfway done I’m looking towards some big plans for the next few months in terms of content and of course a book release. Watch this space!

Weekly Ramble #128

Constantly chasing higher numbers on social media can be draining. Especially when you think you’ve figured out the answers, they go ahead and change the questions. Who are they? The platforms and their algorithms which to me are kind of like a gym membership – costly enough for you to return most weeks but also designed to cast the illusion that you are making progress but actually you are in the same place.

How do I cope with the constant mind fu** that this can all be? Quite simply, I take it one day at a time and honestly, I enjoy the challenge and the connections I make with others. Seeing faces or those behind the handles return everyday to face the same grind as me provides comfort because social media can be a lonely places sometimes, it can feel like you are drifting in space but there are good folks out there and together we make it bearable.

I’m doing my best to up my Twitter game because 20,000 follows is on the near horizon but it just feels like things have slowed on the platform and as someone who is experienced with it I know the problem probably sits with me. The times are moving on from the pandemic ‘everyone is always online’ era and a time where I managed to seize the opportunity. In the past 16 months I made the best of this blog, my author career and wider social media presence but now I’m going to need to adapt to this newer emerging world. But people will always take what you are offering, whether it be content or just your presence, remember that constantly chasing numbers can be a psychological minefield but on social media you get results near enough instantly. So for now I’ll keep chasing because bigger better things are coming.

‘Judd’ by J.D Toombs and Erika Schulze – Review

A ‘high school for heroes’ tale about the power of accepting who you are paired with some unique world building…

Welcome to Aries High, a school for those with unique powers but in this world they are known as Fragments. The only problem is our main character and narrator Samael Judd doesn’t appear to have any powers… That is without mentioning the many pressures he faces for someone his age from stepping out of his older brother’s shadow to even making the basketball team and while he does his best to hide a lack of powers he’s also concealing his sexuality. If both are revealed the repercussions could be disastrous, at least to him anyway. There are only a few he can fully trust and confide in – perhaps the most realistic thing about the social politics of high school, something this story captures well.

There are some unique and interesting concepts in this world of Fragment’s and that world building is something I want to see more of. Terminology and abilities like ‘technomancy’ and ‘magnekenisis’ sound cool and these concepts are only really touched upon as most of the story focuses on Judd’s journey and his high school life which is most probably just the beginning. The symbolism paired with the struggle to accept one’s self is what you’ll find at the centre of this tale and it’s bravely executed. From fighting bullies to borrowing a new girl’s magical dragon to pretend you have powers – as I said cool concepts, there are even some awesome references to video games and music.

On a few occasions there were moments where scenes felt crowded with quite a number of characters present so it was a little difficult to follow and transitions between scenes did occur rather abruptly but overall Judd is a unique story full of drama that captures coming of age, explores social issues and celebrates diversity.

4 Stars – Reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you to the Author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. Judd is released today – grab yourself a copy here!

Weekly Ramble #95

Things are better than yesterday. As an author and creator that’s all I can hope for. Better results than yesterday fuelled by the desire to carry on. The whole ‘keep going’ thing is ingrained on my philosophy and hasn’t ever let me down. I said last week that this is going to be a brutal year and it is, but there is hope to found even in dark times.

When someone asks me how it’s going. The sales, the blog views the whole authoring and blogging social media deal – I simply tell them it’s better than it was, better than yesterday and it is. From selling a couple of books a month to selling one every ten days to now selling more than one every four days. I’ve trialled and errored my way into figuring out book marketing, social media marketing and knowing when to swoop in and convince a person to buy into me. Timing and time is the above all attribute that I hold responsible for all of my success, that is with the sheer will to keep going put to one side.

All of those successful moments and trials and errors I have meticulously laid out in a self help guide book that I am going to be looking to publish this side of the year. While I edit and continually add to it, my uncertainty rears it’s ugly head every now and then. Will anyone benefit from this rather broad explanation of how I got to here? Does anything in this project matter? That imposter syndrome – something I refuse to believe in is perhaps creeping in. I have always cared what people think of my stuff. I’m going to begin searching for some much needed second opinions soon. BETA readers need apply here. I’m gonna need your level headed thoughts to get through this..

Weekly Ramble #90

This year has represented many things for me but probably above all it has proven how much I really miss socialising with people.

Writers are stereotypically introverted and of course we have to be alone to create but I get my energy from being around others. This virus has taken away that opportunity to recharge through socialising. There were days when I was much younger and relied mostly on the release of being social and being out there under the streetlights or even in a lively bar out in the world. It completed me in a sense and got me through more than I realised. This year has been difficult without that. Perhaps this is why I’ve stepped up my social media presence – there’s a pandemic so I have time and it’s also a great way to talk with lots of different folks. It’s probably why I have started interviewing fellow creatives on here also.

As humans we all need escape and being within the confines of indoors has taken it’s toll on the best of us. Until things get better out there I’ll be staying in mostly. I’m lucky to have a significant other who is a perfect companion in all of this and together we’ve binge watched the best of TV this year. The horizon does seem bright but 2020 hasn’t been anywhere near a write off, it’s been the most successful ever for my writing and blogging. Views are at an all time high, sales have been satisfying and the following of this here blog better than ever. Burying myself in work as an author and blogger has pulled me along, let’s hope that continues. I’m eyeing up next year to be even bigger and my efforts are not going to slow one bit.

I’m thankful but also enduring toward this year, November felt four months long, let’s hope December flows a bit better and then 2021, well anything is possible…

In a couple of days I am going to be taking part in Pitmad – a Twitter pitching opportunity where authors and agents connect. I’ve recently finished a project that would serve as a great opportunity to pitch. More soon hopefully… and if you’re on the tweet machine and see my Pitmad tweet give it a Retweet!

You can also catch my rundown of the best books I’ve read this year, that’ll be dropping on Friday! Peace out, rock and roll man!

Weekly Ramble #66

Solitude is difficult. Even as an introvert myself human interaction with strangers plays a part in my my life. Just seeing other people gives comfort that none of us are alone in this. For a world that is so well connected there’s a deep sense of loneliness in all of this and some are going to struggle. Those who live alone especially so. 

But even if the most dire of situations you’ll find opportunity. There is only one agreement about this rather mystery illness that’s sweeping the world; it’s contagious. What can you do to fight a contagious disease; stay healthy. Use the time given or lent to you for exercise, catching up on sleep and for cooking good healthy food. All three of these register as self care in my eyes and in times where you cannot physically socialise to feel better, find other ways.

This distancing deal might be around for a while to come. Standing in two meter lines at checkouts and only going out every ten days, my grandparents had it worse and I’m not comparing because I know the impact this is all having. The economy is going to fall to shit, jobs are going to get lost but if you have your health, your body will look after you throughout whatever tough times lay ahead trust me.

The world needs you to take care of yourself so do it by any means necessary.