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Have you been told that you should have an account on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Flicker or other social networking sites in order to promote yourself or what you do? Do you find yourself overwhelmed at the prospect of creating your “platform” (or presence) on the ever-evolving web?

The fact is, most people who are freelancers (self-employed) rely ever more on a solid web presence for generating awareness of who they are – and what services or products they offer. It’s one of our most important tools for reaching a world wide audience.

But if you are over a certain age (meaning you did not grow up with a computer in one hand and a rattle in the other), or you don’t have a “staff” to help you, attending to all these options may feel overwhelming – to say nothing of intimidating. So where in the world wide web do you start?

To Blog or Not to Blog

Most of us start with a blog (like this one). You can get them for free on many host sites, or at low cost. Most come equipped with design templates and simple instructions for customization and uploading your material. Open one here on wordpress for free, or use your favorite search engine to find other both free and paying blog hosts.

Now that you have a site, you need to define your voice and purpose, and from that, you’ll be able to determine your content. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s the primary focus of my blog?
  • What do I want from it?
  • What kind of content can make my blog stand out?
  • What similar sites can I link to?

Once you define these, you can get the ball rolling by creating your content, and by linking your site to other appropriate sites that reinforce your objectives.


There are a few rules about the effective use of a blog. Content is king, so start making a list of the topics you would like to discuss and share. Stockpile these whenever you have a chance. Try to keep a schedule for posting, i.e., write several articles and schedule uploading them at regular intervals, this will help keep you at the top of the search engines. Your articles, or postings, can be brief, in fact, it’s better if they are. Everyone wants information fast online.

Linking to Others

Use technorati to search for other blogs of similar topic as your own. Check them out, see how they’ve set up their pages and content. Here’s the important part: start reading and leaving comments on these sites, but only when you have something relevant to add to the topic. Relevancy is extremely important. This is how you begin developing a relationship with other bloggers. Once you’ve done this, it’s more appropriate to invite them over to your blog site to comment on your posts.

But let’s say you already have a blog, maybe even several. Now what? What other sites and applications do you utilize? How do you make it all make sense – and make it work together? Yes, Virginia, this IS where it starts to get complicated. But don’t despair…

In 2004, a dear friend of mine, and past collaborator, Kyra Reed, moved to Los Angeles from Portland (where we had worked together on a documentary film project). She was managing indie rock bands at the time. Being both sharp and devoted, she set about learning what bells and whistles she could create to help her musicians succeed – to get their music heard by as many people as possible – and by the people who could help their careers. She was successful. Eventually, she used what she learned about social networking to do the same for the famous Roxy Theater, one of the original rock and roll clubs on Sunset Strip in LA., and now they’re leading an exciting revitalization of the Sunset Strip club scene.

Today, Kyra is the co-founding partner of Markyr Media, a social networking consulting company. She travels to conferences all over the country to share how other artists can utilize social networking to promote themselves and their art. She’s also the author of a very helpful book, appropriately entitled: Blog 101. And she’ll be in my current home town of Austin, Texas come March, speaking on the same on a few panels at the SXSW 2010 Interactive Conference.

Blog 101 is beautifully laid out as an ebook, full of helpful links and clear explanations – plus it’s easy to assimilate and use. I highly recommend Kyra’s book as a resource to anyone new to blogging, or to anyone who wants a guide to the most effective strategies when using social networking channels.

But this all sounds so dry….

As a writer, when I feel pulled in too many directions, I remind myself of my “premise” – the point I’m trying to make. When overwhelmed with the intricacies of social networking, I pull myself back to something Kyra said to me in the very beginning of her explorations of what she’s since written a book about: It’s all about creating community. Just like the community you create of friends, neighbors and coworkers in your own home town, each contribution you make to your online community eventually builds into a “reputation.” And this takes time.

So step back, do what you can and let it build. Work with it a little each day. Schedule time for it. And buy Kyra’s book, or some other guide (I’m sure they’re out there) to lead you through the process of tapping in to all the networking tools available on the internet that can help you achieve your professional or artistic goals. A guide can really save you lots of time, and you can focus more on the expertise or the voice you are here to promote and share.

January 2010
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