Time Online

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Nowadays there is more of a burden on creatives to be able to market their own work.  For those pursuing some form of self-publishing, the ability to do so is paramount, but even traditionally publishing outlets want creators who already have a following.  One of the biggest concerns surrounding this trend is allocating time to it.  The internet is a big place, so realistically how much time should you put into your online presence?  On top of that, between friends, family, real paying jobs (full, part-time, or otherwise), and actually doing the artsy stuff, how does one squeeze in more time for marketing?

I wrote another article about what elements you need to create your online presence, but this article is going to focus on helping you decide how much time to spend managing them.


Time Break Down

I think the most important part of your online presence is probably your content marketing, which can come in the form of a blog, vlog, podcast, or similar form of media.  I recommend creating at least one new piece of content per week.  I think doing less than that will make it difficult for you to gain any traction.  The more you can create, the better, but I wouldn’t worry about comparing yourself to people who put out daily videos or articles.  Chances are someone who does that is already making (or trying to make) a full-time living off of their platform.

Once you’ve written a few articles or created a few videos, you’ll have a good idea of how much time to set aside for the process. Just be sure that you do that every week. One of the most important things in content marketing is posting regularly. You want your followers to know when they can tune in and expect to find something new.

As for social media, I think ideally you should be doing something on your platforms every day, even if it’s only for a little bit. All of these platforms have smart phone applications, so you can check up on them during breaks at work, while you’re on the train, or while you’re waiting on line at the supermarket. At the very least I would say you need to set aside two times a week where you can really work in depth at engaging followers on your platform. You don’t want to go for a prolonged period of time without replying to people who are asking you questions or without posting something because people quickly forget about you, and that’s the last thing you want to happen.

On top of that, most social media isn’t that all-consuming.  You can easily have a Twitter conversation or update your sites while you’re watching TV, cooking dinner, or doing one of the myriad of other things you need to do throughout your day.  The same cannot be said for your creative endeavors.  So, if there was ever a time to multitask, it would be while you’re doing some of the social media maintenance.

That being said, I would also schedule specific times that you plan on updating your social media profiles.  If you leave it to chance or just assume that you’ll get posts out during the day, you run the risk of being busy, distracted, or tired and not actually doing any of the work.  You don’t have to schedule a ton of time for this (maybe 15 minutes per platform), but you should make sure that you set aside at least a little time to fully focus on maintaining your online presence.

But you’ll probably want to do your marketing work during a point in time when you aren’t necessarily quite as focused.  For example, if you know that you write very well in the morning but are tired at night, then make sure you are writing in the morning and save your marketing work for the evening.  As important as it is, it isn’t the priority.


Post Scheduling

There are a lot of different programs that can help you schedule social media posts at times when you aren’t online.  This can really help you expand your reach to different people who are active at different times of day without actually having to be online 24/7.  Sites like Buffer or Everypost allow you to schedule posts across multiple social media platforms.

Personally I use Tweetdeck to spit out tweets throughout the day so that I always appear active and present on Twitter.  I also use Facebook’s scheduling feature for posts on my Facebook page.  While many scheduling apps cost money, both of these options are free, and they allow me to spend more time actively engaged on other platforms like Pinterest or Wattpad.

Of note, I haven’t really found any sites that let you schedule things for Pinterest (one of my personal favorite social media platforms), so keep that in mind if having a scheduling app is important for you in terms of expanding onto more social platforms.


Prioritize the Creative Stuff

First and foremost, you should never be prioritizing your marketing work over your creative work.  If you have a rough week and need to scale back on something, then scale back on the social media, not the writing. If you need to put off posting new content on your vlog or blog, then let your followers know that you’ll be missing a week, but don’t stress it too much. Just make sure it doesn’t become a habit.

Finally, remember that building a following takes time.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Ultimately it’s going to be easier to discover you once you have a big body of work and some fans who are willing to help you promote your new releases. You can have a great author platform, but if you aren’t regularly producing work, then people will lose interest in you. In the end, one of your best marketing tools is going to be creating new work, and we already know that you have time for that. Right?


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