Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Learning Process

The Plus Diaries have been gracing your screens for just over 3 years.  In fact, it was only last month we celebrated our birthday! Fun times, right?  Well, it all hasn't been that great.  

Sometimes, there are some days where I've been wanting to shut down this site.  Why?  It gets hard and it gets rocky, but I keep going.  Some days, my posts (in my opinion) get absolutely no love, but then some that I think are weak get so much support that it just blows my mind.  I have done giveaways and no one participated in them, but yet I've been able to reach out to people and have them featured in my blog.  It's not a perfect blog, but it is a blog that is perfectly mine (and yours).  

In these past few years, I have learned some things about my not so perfect blog (well, all of my social media) and how to make it even more not so perfect.  I've tried different things.  Some of them have worked and others have crashed and burned.  However, there are a few things I have managed to learn along the way and I would like to share those with you...in no particular order.  

Work Hard!  I've spent countless hours, that have turned into days, that have turned into weeks on this blog.  There are other things I want to do in this blog and I'm working on those projects right now.  In fact, I'm having a rather busy week because of this.  But guess what?  Every single minute is going to be worth it as I start achieving more goals.  Each minute you spend with your blog is going to be worth it too!  

It is important to market yourself.  Grant it, I have a talent manager now, but that hasn't always been the case.  I've had to work very hard to reach out to people to be featured in my blog and also to work together with.  I'm constantly using social media to get my name out there and I am also using my business cards.  Even on days when I do not write in this blog, you know the url of this blog because I post it!  The only time I'm not busy marketing myself is when I am on vacation because everyone deserves a vacation.  However, even on vacation, I'm a photo junkie and I post constantly to my Instagram and Tumblr pages.  Ok, I guess I never really stop.

Anything you post is a reflection of you, so post wisely!  Think before you tweet, put up a photo, or do anything that will make people question what you are really trying to accomplish.  The way people screenshot things these days, you might not be able to get down what it is fast enough.  You don't want all your hard work to go down in flames because of a moment of anger or, honestly, stupidity.  You have worked too hard for your brand for that to happen.  

Use social media wisely.  People can be so mean behind a screen.  Think about it like this, if someone met you in public and they only knew you because of your social media, would they want to hug you or punch you in the face?  Make people want to be happy to be around you, even though they may be on the other side of the world.  Now, grant it, I'm blunt, but I'm also not mean.  I don't like mean people and I don't plan on being mean on any of my pages or when I meet you.  Also, stay consistent with your social media names.  If you can give each of your sites the same name, that is perfect.  That makes it so much easier for people to find you.  However, if you are not able to have the same name on all your sites, at least have something close to each other.  Another thing - link your sites to each other.  It is so convenient.  You can get to my Bloglovin, Twitter, and Instagram pages (and follow them) easily be clicking the links on the right of your screen.  The only thing not on the main screen is my Tumblr account, but I just helped you out with that.  However, if you are reading this from your phone right now, you can follow me now on Bloglovin (no you do not have to have a blog), TwitterInstagram, and Periscope.        

You have to reach out to people.  Find communities on social media!  I'm part of so many blogging communities and people help me by retweeting my posts and liking my posts!  It's so important to make those connections so people will be willing to help you!  Also, if you find pages and people you enjoy, support them!  If you see people supporting you, return the favor!  It's hard to be a blogger if you are not willing to work with people to get ideas and suggestions.  Take a risk and ask for anything you need.  You will be shocked at how many people are willing to share with you their experiences.  Everything is a learning experience and if people can help you, most are ready and willing to.  On the other hand, you need to be ready to help people to.  If you cannot, that is understandable, but if you are consistently not wiling to help, it could give you a bad name.  

Protect your brand!  Make sure you have a team of people you trust who will not post anything negative about you.  These same people should also alert you if they see anything negative being posted about you (so you can immediately start the damage control process).  Honestly, these people also need to be close enough to you to be honest.  Your team is around you to give you feedback, positive or critical!  Don't think you have a team?  If you have people around you and they know about what you are doing, you have a team!  Don't trust one or some of them?  Time to change out some of the members of your team.

If you are a blogger, be consistent with your posts.  Grant it, we all take vacations or even have a case of really bad writer's block.  Both are perfectly fine and normal.  However, at least let your readers know that you are not going to be around for a bit so you won't become a total stranger to them.  Believe it or not, your readers will get caught up in your life and in a way, will begin to know you.  You don't want to leave them hanging.  Personally, I go through a writing slump twice a year.  I'm trying to not let that happen this year, but if it does, you will know about it...unlike the other times it has happened.  Why will you know about it?  I've learned it's hard to get you readers back because they feel like you abandoned them.  That's a feeling no one deserves to have.     

Get used to having to use hashtags.  If you see something trending and you want to be part of it, join in!  If someone says use this hashtag in your tweet for a retweet (and you trust the source), use the hashtag.  Free promotion is awesome, if you use is correctly.  However, don't use too many hashtags in your tweet or post.  It will just become too much to follow and people will lose interest.  

Be honest!  Your followers and readers will appreciate you more if they think they actually know you.  Yes, I do write under an assumed alias, but you already knew that.  We all know I don't tell yall my government name!  My social media sites are not even my government name.  For me, it's more fun like that, but I make it very clear.  

It is so important to be respectful.  Also, don't let the comments of people get out of control.  You have the option to delete people that are out of control.  You also have the option to block people on social media.  Believe me, I use my block button all the time, especially on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.  You have the power to control your page.  Remember, everything you do online is just a reflection and extension of the person you really are.  

Even when you are writing or discussing a serious subject, do your best to stay positive.  If you cannot stay positive, at least do your best to not be negative.  You can find a median.  It will not be an easy task, but it can be done.  

Days are going to be hard.  You're not going to be able to think of anything to write.  You're not going to feel like writing.  Social media is going to annoy you and people are going to negatively talk about you.  But you need to remember this one thing - never give up!  When you feel your post is not its best, it is still going to mean something to somebody.  If you have a contest and no one participates, have another one.  Learn from what when wrong and make the changes.  If you put out the wrong info in your posts or and social media, apologize.  An apology really goes a long way.  

My last piece of advice?  Have fun!!!  Writing is so fun!  Being on social media is so fun!  Don't stop having fun!  When you stop having fun, you have lost your love for the craft.  When you lose your love of the craft, it is time to find something new.  

In the 3 years I've been doing The Plus Diaries and my other social media, these are just a few of the things I've learned.  If I keep doing this another 3 years, I'm sure I'll have so much more to tell you.  But for right now, this is all I have.  For you people thinking about blogging, I hope this helps you start your blogging journey.  If you were thinking about closing down your blog, I hope this has encouraged you to keep going.  

Have a blog?  Starting a blow?  Let me know!  I love to follow people on social media and follow blogs.  Also, if I can help you, please let me know.  Nothing I have learned will be kept a secret and if I don't know the answer, I will definitely try to find it for you.  We got this!!!


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