So your tutors are giving you good feedback, and you’re happy with what you’re writing, but what’s the next stage in sharing that with other people? People you don’t know, people whose opinions matter, people who are part of a wider community of poets?
In this series I’m going to write a few posts about ways of getting your poetry out into the wider world, if you’re looking to widen your audience and looking at different ways to do it. I’m always interested in hearing what your experiences have been, what you’ve found daunting and how you think the OCA blog might be able to offer advice on the ‘real world’ aspects of creative writing; performance, publication and so on.
This post is about online presence; how you can use this as a tool to promote your work, how to make the most of the free tools that are out there and how to connect with your audience digitally.
- You may have particular literary bloggers or authors that you follow online, and this is the best place to start. What is it that you like about their website? Is it the simplicity of the layout, or the friendly tone of the blog posts? Is it the video or audio content? Have a think about what it is that keeps you returning to their website or their Facebook page and what you’d like to recreate or do differently when it comes to your own web presence.
- Get yourself a site. Blog sites such as WordPress, Blogger and Wix all offer free sites as well as their more swanky paid versions, so you can get going straight away! They are all pretty user-friendly and you can choose a theme to style the site and make it more unique to your needs.
- Update, update, update! One of the considerations when starting a blog is that there is some work required in keeping it up to date and creating content for your readers. While continual blog posts will probably be off-putting, at least a post every week is probably going to be required to keep your readers coming back. A good tip is to listen to the responses you get from your readers, the kind of posts they like, the kind of posts that get you more views, and bear that in mind when thinking about what you can write about next.
- Be aware that if you are planning to publish whole poems or short stories online that you will not be able to submit these pieces to most literary journals, as what they will want is exclusive rights to a piece that has not been published before. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t publish any of your writing online, but that you should be careful not to publish ALL of it if you’re intending to send work out for publication. Maybe pick a couple pieces that you’re really happy with and choose for them to sit on your website as a representation of what you can do.
- If you feel like blogging is going to become a chore, perhaps a less intense form of internet presence such as a writer’s Facebook page or a Twitter account for your writing work will be more suitable. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what’s not for you, and there’s no joy to be gained from forcing yourself to write things you’re not enjoying.
- Social media is a well-known distraction, but it can also be an incredibly useful tool when it comes to publicising your work, because you can connect it to your blog and use it to alert your followers to new posts. I’d suggest picking one particular tool and focussing on that and getting really good at it. Maybe you want to make a Facebook page for your work and share updates, maybe you’d rather join the conversation on Twitter or perhaps your work has a visual element that means it would work well on Instagram. And there’s nothing wrong with exploring all the possibilities before you decide!
Wishing you all the very best for your digital future! If you’ve got any advice from your own experiences please do share it with us. Remember to read my previous post Getting your poetry out there. Part one – The open mic night