It’s hard enough to just sit down and write most days. And now you’re telling me, “Having an online presence as a writer is essential”? C’mon!
Yes, I’m telling you that. And I can hear the whine in your voice even though this conversation started inside my head…and has now moved over to yours.
Here’s why you need to have your own your website and/or blog associated with your name and why you need to start working on it now.
Assuming what you do is creative writing–generated by your own impulses and not by an editor who’s assigned you a subject and will send a check after publication–you choose what to write about, the style you assume and the tone you take, and you put your name on it because it’s yours. Total control from top to bottom–that’s what you have over your writing.
Now consider your image online. Someone sees something you’ve written and takes note of your name and byline. They like what they’ve read, they want to read more, and now they go searching for you. If you don’t have a website, you kinda just blew it. Because what they find is NOT under your control.
In fact, the results can seem random (at least to you, but there’s always a method to this madness). Sometimes, they don’t showcase your best efforts.
Worse, Google–in its infinite algorithmic wisdom–may occasionally return results you will actually scream at when you click through and see what the link points to. (Been there, felt that, and that’s why I check my name regularly to see what comes up.)
Have a blog, have a website, but have something.
Because when you do, and when you update it regularly (more on that in another post), you’ll have Google’s attention when people search your name and ideally you’ll control that first impression right there at the top.
What prompted this post is a personal experience I had this morning related to my day job. I’m an independent radio producer for an NPR affiliate and every week when I write scripts I fact check against the guest’s bio online. Today, despite the guest’s prominence and field of expertise, there was no online bio. Nothing. Lots of mentions of the name in articles and journals, but nothing that says, Here I am, these are my credentials and affiliations, I approved this message.
“My word is my bond” was a statement we once believed in, an assurance that what we said could be trusted and was binding. I think that in the new media world order, our websites and/or blogs should be our bond. So if you’re not extending your hand to your potential audience–via words and content you are in total control of–you’re not the one shaking on the deal.
Here’s a brief but spot-on look at what makes for an effective online presence; it’s not geared to writers specifically, but much of the advice is similar to what I tell my blogging classes or clients who consult with me on their blogs or want to know how to go about starting one.