What's Almost Better than a Free Web Site?
Wow! This will be the second week in a row that Writer’s Digest Magazine has recognized this blog for excellence. I am truly and deeply terrified…honored. I meant honored. Yes, honored. So thank you Jane Friedman for working your tail off to give writers the tools they need to succeed. And thank you, thank you, a million thanks for considering this blog to be one of those tools.
Deep breath. Ok.
Originally I was going to blog this week about Facebook—profile pages versus fan pages. But apparently Jane Friedman has better writer spies than I do, and she beat me to it (link to her blog at the end). I’ll do that another week. So what are we going to talk about?
Bet you didn’t expect that one. Maybe the title gave you a teensy hint. MySpace. Ha ha! It actually isn’t dead. In fact over 60 million active users as of March 2010 say MySpace is alive and well despite some setbacks. Will it fade away eventually? Probably. But Twitter and Facebook likely will as well.
Yes, I am sorry to tell you that Twitter is not timeless. It has a shelf life. Hopefully, for us addicts, it will be a very long shelf life, but we do tend to forget our loyalty when lured by the new shiny thing. That is why a lot of what I teach has less to do with technology and more to do with application. Technology will eventually face obsolescence, but application is timeless. Branding your name (last week’s blog) was smart back when everything was done by snail mail and it was smart when Friendster was big and it is smart now with Facebook.
Back to MySpace. Until it blows up or is taken off-line for good, it is going to be a super-powerful tool to help you succeed. I hear too many authors say, “MySpace is so yesterday. I’m on Facebook.” Well, okay, but you are shelving a very powerful tool for promotion, and we aren’t on there for fun, we are there to build a brand.
Every writer should have a MySpace page, especially a new writer. GASP! Yes you read correctly. I do believe I am unique in teaching this technique that I am about to pass on to you. And there is more about this topic in my upcoming book, We Are Not Alone—Writers and Social Media Marketing.
Kristen! Why on earth do you want us to mess with MySpace? We can barely keep up with FB and Twitter for goodness sakes!
Well, first of all, my book teaches a method that will help you dominate the domains and command all the digital real estate you can. It takes a lot of work at first, but if done correctly, it will take minimal time to maintain. I recommend a presence on all three major platforms—MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. To what degree you participate in any of them is up to you. But that is a discussion for another time.
MySpace is one of your greatest assets, and more writers should take advantage. Why?
How many of you already have a customized, fancy, interactive website? If not, then…
How many of you have $10,000 to go drop on a customized, fancy, interactive website?
How many of you have $1000 or $500 for a regular, not-so-impressive web site?
How many of you, especially new writers, barely have money to eat, let alone THINK of building a web site?
How many of you want to pay some web guy every time you want to put up something new or change something?
I highly, highly, highly recommend MySpace pages as a web site. Why?
- They are free.
- They are easy to build. If you can right click, cut and paste, then you can build a killer MySpace page. MySpace is the friend of the technology-challenged writer who doesn’t have the cash to pay someone to build a fancy web site.
- MySpace pages are free, quick, and easy to modify (upload new pictures, blogs, links, etc). In fact, you can change the look of the entire page in 20 seconds.
- It is easy to post blogs.
- It is easy to link to your Twitter (embedded widget)
- Regularly updated MySpace pages score very highly with search engines. In English that means your name (brand) will rank higher on a Google search much quicker than you will with a static site.
- MySpace makes it easy to separate your personal life from your professional (without the awkwardness of multiple FB identities).
- Can be easily synced to Twitter. Update Twitter, and it will auto-update MySpace.
- Is a great transition to a Facebook fan page. Face it. If you are an unpublished writer who isn’t even sure of what genre you want to write, you DO NOT need a fan page (yet).
- Unlike a static web page, MySpace pages are already integrated into an existing network thus making it easier to gain a following. There are some die-hard MySpacers who could be potential readers. Why alienate them? This is why I assert that ALL authors can benefit from having a MySpace page.
I taught this technique on Saturday to a group of Rotarians. Rotary is 105 years old. Like many service organizations, they must get plugged in and become relevant or face declining numbers. I built a MySpace page for my club and we use it for recruiting. It looks cool, has embedded music and video and best of all…it was FREE!!!!! And it took all of two hours to do and takes only minutes to maintain.
Now when I meet someone and they say, “What is Rotary?” I can send them to our MySpace and feel confident that it portrays the best about who we are and what we do.
Our club didn’t have to hope that some Rotarian in our club was a computer geek who would build a site for free (or at least give us a price break). We didn’t need to raise funds to hire a web master to build a nice looking web site. We didn’t have to allocate funds for web hosting.
MySpace allows us to get all the benefits of a webpage without the hassle and expense of a web page.
If you aren’t already on MySpace, I recommend getting a MySpace page (using the name you wish to brand). It will save you time and money better spent focusing on improving you and your writing skills. When you get business cards, print the MySpace domain on your card just like a web site (or along with your existing web site). Put your MySpace domain in your information section of your bios on Facebook and Twitter just like you would a regular web site.
You don’t have to do your socializing on MySpace if you don’t want to. MySpace might be annoyed at me for saying that, but it is their job to make interaction more fun and exciting than Facebook, not ours. They benefit off us being users who post regular content. Thus, they still profit when we use them for a free web site (we are sending traffic their way).
My MySpace page, I think, looks great, and it has had well over 30,000 hits (even though I was once dumb and went under texaswriterchik). My MySpace page has the links to my blog, my static site and even a nifty button to help visitors follow me on Twitter. Sounds a lot like a web page, right? Only this didn’t cost me anything but time.
And I know all the Facebook loyalists are groaning, but human nature is to be impressed with the shiny thing, and cool backgrounds trump uncool backgrounds any day of the week. If you love Facebook, feel free to invite visitors to socialize with you on your Facebook site. It isn’t social media infidelity if you do. MySpace will get over it. I am sure they would rather have you on their platform some of the time instead of none of the time.
I recommend MySpace or Yours for awesome free backgrounds. For those on Twitter, they also offer some amazing free Twitter backgrounds (even to match your MySpace background if you like). Freesourcecode.com is also a great place for amazing free backgrounds (particularly for fantasy writers). This site also has ways of helping you create a customized background with you photo or logo. You will have to mess with some pop ups, but I have always used both of these sites, and, in the past four years, have had no problems.
I recommend saving the code in individual Word documents and labeling what they are…Killer Dragon MySpace Background, Awesome Fairy Background, etc. This will make it easier to change backgrounds regularly and you won’t have to start over looking for a good background. You will be able to change the entire look of your page in the time it takes to highlight, delete, copy, paste, and save. DONE!
- If you load music, make it appropriate and even neutral. We are there to build a brand, not upload every song we’ve liked since high school. We might love Hip-Hop or Norwegian Death Metal, but others might not.
- Limit adding flash. Photo slide shows are pretty, but they will slow down the loading time of your MySpace page and frustrate visitors.
- Keep it simple. Think of this like your web site. Bio, contact info (on all other social media sites) and your blog (feel free to use it to send people to your WordPress or Blogger). That’s all. Photo albums are extra. Games and Mafia Wars are for regular people, not professionals.
- Update regularly. Make an effort to log in and at least send out a status update at least once a day. Just comment on someone’s page or add a friend or two. Just have activity. It takes 5 minutes and will help you score higher with search engines.
- Make your page open to the public like a web site (cuz, well, it is like your web site). Make it easy for us to visit. Solving CAPTCHAs and making us cough up your personal e-mail, your real last name and the name of your first pet is annoying. We are lazy. We will go elsewhere and find friends who are not so high-maintenance.
Most of all HAVE FUN! MySpace is a great way to express your creative side and all that money you would have spend building a fancy website can now pay for you to attend a conference to make you a better writer.
Until next time…
By the way! If you loved this blog and just want MORE? My book, “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” is now available. Buy one today and take charge of your writing career! My book is designed specifically for writers. I want to change your habits, not your personality. Harness that same creative energy used for writing and use it to build your platform.
Invest in your career.
I recommend you stop by Jane Friedman’s blog “There Are No Rules.” Check out all the other links that Editor Jane listed for their quality information. She works hard to gather the best of the best to make us the best, so take full advantage
I also recommend Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer Workshop. This blog would have never happened had it not been for Bob and his Warrior Writer training. Bob works extremely hard to help writers be successful. Sign up for a WW Workshop near you or join his on-line Warrior Writer Workshop at www.bobmayer.org.