The Great Chicago Fire, an artists rendering, ...
Chicago was on Fire! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a terrific time with the Independent Writers of Chicago last week. What a lively group! They took my instructions that this was an interactive presentation to heart. Folks were so engaged, and asked so many questions, I barely got halfway through my planned talk. Nonetheless, have a look at the complete slide deck (click the link if the embed isn’t working):

Build Your Author Platform talk at Independent Writers of Chicago

To those of you who attended, you’ll enjoy these slides  more than what you saw that night.

The Big Four social media sites

I focused my talk on why having a website (like this one) is important, and connecting with the most important social media sites:

The slides will give you a hint on why these are the most important, and pros and cons for each service.

But can you make money with it?

Karma as action and reaction: if we sow goodne...
Karma as action and reaction: if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much of the conversation focused on the fundamental question for any freelance writer: Is social media really a valuable investment in time? One writer noted that she set and achieved a goal to get 10,000 Twitter followers, but that she found it impossible to communicate effectively with that size crowd. Not discouraged, she divided her followers into lists based on who shared her content and other criteria. She, in turn, spent more time reading and sharing posts from the folks who supported her.

I also pointed out that many agents and publishers use audience size as a way to decide whether a new author is willing to do the marketing work needed to sell books today. No audience, no sale.

 New places to build platform

One thing I wish I could have shared is my time-honored advice for social media success: get in early! I’ve told this story often, learned by way of the Most Influential Person in Technical Communication, Tom Johnson.  In short: One of the main reasons I was once on the list of Most Influential that Tom was #1 on is that Tom and I both discovered – and posted to – Twitter early.

Eight years ago this month, some friends came back from South by Southwest to spread the word of the usefulness and fun quotient of the 140-character mini-blog tool. I signed up, and the rest is certainly history. (Psst…you can follow me using the button on the right).

So let me hook you up with two (relatively) new services that I’m on. I have no idea whether they will become household names over time, but if they do, I want to say I helped.

  • Ello: This service was the hottest thing in the blogosphere for a week or so late last year. Not unlike Google+, this ad-free zone was torched by the same bloggers and journalists for not dethroning Facebook quickly enough. Nonetheless, this beta service continues to grow, add features, and remains pretty interesting. I’ve got invites…
  • Known: I learned about this site by way of a comment on an article by Dan Gillmor
    Dan Gillmor, American technology writer and fo...
    Dan Gillmor, American technology writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    on Medium. I haven’t done much here, and don’t entirely get its purpose yet, but you might find it interesting too. Gillmor (one of my tech-journalist heroes, BTW) calls himself “a big fan.”

Thanks again to the Independent Writers of Chicago (especially Tom Kepler, James Kepler and David Steinkraus) for inviting me to speak, and providing such a great audience. Oh, the pizza was great, too!

Excited to tell you that I’ll be speaking to the Independent Writers of Chicago (IWOC) on Tuesday, March 10th on “Building Your Author Platform.”

Freelancers Building a Platform

Build Your Author PlatformWhat am I going to talk about? Still working on it, but I intend to focus on:

  • The value of building a platform for freelance journalists
  • The value of writing books for freelancers of all kinds
  • An overview of the 14 steps to building a platform that Carole Jelen and I detail in our book
  • Reminding you why social media is critical in building that audience.

Of course, I’ll take questions, and give away a copy of Build Your Author Platform: The New Rules.

Networking and refreshments start at 5PM at the Gratz Center (Room 4A), 126 E. Chestnut Street, Chicago (just behind the Fourth Presbyterian church pictured below). My part of the program starts at 6PM.

English: Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago...
Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, taken from across Michigan Ave. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More information and advance registration for the event at the IWOC website.

Look forward to meeting more readers, and writers.

Related: Surprise from SlideShare

This morning I got an email from SlideShare telling me that my presentations were in the top 25% most-viewed on the site in 2014. The top two slide decks were:

Yep, you read that last one  right. My five-year-old talk did nearly as well in page views as my most recent outing. For that, I thank (again) my Aussie conference buddy Sarah Maddox. She was in my audience that day in 2009. Last February she was gracious enough to include the deck in her “Super Useful List” of technical writing tools. One of these days, I need to update that deck…

Let me also point out that the LinkedIn presentation also received a terrific boost from the Washington, DC chapter of STC.

All that to say that my IWOC slides will also be available at SlideShare after the talk. Feel free to share the deck with your readers too.

Focus, branding, search engine optimization… optimization schmoptimization, we say! Who says you can’t blog on whatever tickles your fancy? The key is to find the focus in your lack of focus.

Source: dailypost.wordpress.com

When I started blogging more than a decade ago, I really wanted to blog about anything that crossed my mind. The odd thing was that most of the things crossing my mind were about technology and software.

Now that I am conscious about using a blog to build my authority about topics I write about, I think hard before writing about other things that cross my mind, or just aren’t about open source software or the Internet. As you build your platform with your blog, you may encounter that dread “I’m losing focus” feeling in your head. Michelle Weber at WordPress.com’s The Daily Post reminds you that often, your audience follows you just because you’re you!

To reconcile these contradictory urges, Michelle gives some great tips for allowing your readers to focus on the topics they want to — and let everyone else enjoy everything you represent.

See on Scoop.itBuild Your Author Platform: New Rules