As writers, we’re always struggling to find enough time for writing, editing, marketing (not to mention needing time for life in general). So whenever we hear about a social media site that we’re not on yet, we’re likely to say, “Not another one!” *smile*
But the truth is that every social media platform is different. They each attract a different user base and have different strengths and weaknesses.
Some help us form connections with other writers, and some help us connect with readers. Some are easier to use, and some require less time.
So I figure we should at least learn about all the different types of social media. Just because we don’t like one platform doesn’t mean another type of social media won’t be a perfect fit for us, especially if we want to be where our readers are.
One social media platform that’s popular with many different reader groups is Tumblr. I’ve heard Tumblr described as a mini-blogging platform, and it’s set up for easy sharing of other’s posts, so many find it less time-consuming than other types of social media.
Unfortunately, I don’t know a thing about Tumblr, so I couldn’t give tips. But luckily, our guest today knows Tumblr well and is here to share their tips for making Tumblr work for us as writers. Please welcome my friend and frequent visitor here, Davonne Burns! *smile*
Taming Tumblr: Ten Tips for Writers
There are so many social media websites out there that the thought of having to add another one might have you screaming into a pillow or other soft surface with frustration. I feel you. Really I do. I have horrible social anxiety and being on the internet hasn’t really changed that.
I find Facebook shallow and frustrating. Twitter moves so fast my anxiety goes through the roof. Goodreads gives me hives. I won’t touch Reddit with a twenty-foot pole. Google+ … what’s Google+?
Well, that doesn’t leave me a lot of options as an author looking to expand their reader base. Or it might look that way on the surface.
You see, I’ve managed to tame Tumblr. Yes, that scary dark hole of SuperWhoLock fandom, SJWs, and teen hipsters. I’m here today to show you how you too can tame this eldritch terror.
Caveat: Like All Social Media, There Are Unspoken Rules
First, the bad news. Tumblr can be a very unforgiving place.
Like any social media account where you promote yourself, you should always strive to be professional (and no, I don’t always take my own advice). Tumblr can also be frustrating if you aren’t familiar with its internal social structure and ethics.
Tumblr is a lot like a big city with little neighborhoods, and each neighborhood has its own rules. What neighborhood you belong to depends a lot on what blogs you follow. As you become more integrated, you’ll start understanding the unspoken rules.
Setting Up an Account
As far as setting up an account, I’m going to link you to a video rather than walk you through it myself. I’m going to focus on helping you get the most out of your blog once you have it set up.
Here’s the video, and I’ll be here when you’re done watching:
All set? Awesome. Pretty easy, right? Eh, well, parts of it.
10 Tips for Building Your Presence on Tumblr
Now, the hard part: building your presence.
Here are a few suggestions that can help you integrate quickly and painlessly into the Tumblr environment:
#1: Have Fun
Tumblr can be a great place full of incredible people. Don’t take it too seriously, and enjoy your time there. Make it worth your while. And don’t fear the memes.
#2. Don’t Feel Obligated to Follow People Who Follow You
This is not Twitter. It’s better to follow only those blogs you truly enjoy and get the most out of your time on the site.
Tumblr can be a huge time sink if you don’t manage it properly (I certainly don’t), and following blogs you don’t care for will just clutter up your dash. This is directly related to #1.
#3: Find Fandoms You Love & Follow Blogs Who Post in Them
This is also related to #1. Seriously, if it’s something you enjoy, chances are you’ll find plenty of potential readers there. If you’re writing something that is similar to a particular fandom, don’t hesitate to mention that.
Say you’re writing a paranormal romance and want to engage potential readers who enjoy paranormal. Right now, Shadowhunters has a decent fandom on Tumblr (the Malec pairing especially).
The MCU is huge as is Star Wars, but you can get drowned out in fandoms that large. Gamers also love Tumblr, so don’t be afraid to go into those tags too. Just make certain your posts offer some value, as the next point discusses.
#4: Engage Those Fandoms
This doesn’t mean you have to create content. Just reblog posts you like. People will notice.
And if you do create content, you’ll probably see your follower count increase. Content can be anything from fanfiction, meta, gifs, artwork, and just commentary on the media. Just be sure you tag it (see #7).
Once you’re established in the fandom, it can be much easier to post your own promotional material and have it reblogged. People will have gotten to know you and will be eager to see what you’ve come up with.
I’ve done this through a couple of fandoms I’m a part of, namely Thief (2014) and Transformers. By enjoying myself and being a part of these fandoms, I’ve met some fantastic people and made lifelong friends. I’ve also found new readers.
My followers know what I like through my blog posts, and they also know what kind of things I value and what I write about. Nothing is more fun than to log in to find people asking about your current project or asking about your characters. They will do this if you’re open, conversational, and genuine.
#5: Follow Other Authors & Author Help Blogs
Search the tags: writing, writing advice, and publishers. Or put in specific names and see what comes up.
There are several publishers on Tumblr and some really great research blogs too. Be a good author friend, and reblog other authors’ posts.
#6: Promote Yourself but Be Personal & Approachable about It
I personally don’t do a ton of self-promotion. When I do, I try to make it something that people will want to reblog.
Reblogs are the ultimate goal for posts. The more reblogs, the more people who are seeing your post.
You’ll want pictures—relevant gifs and not a ton of text are often key—but there are no hard and fast rules. Most of all, be personal about it. Think of each post as you talking to a group of people at a party. You’re having a conversation, not giving a lecture. *smile*
#7: Use Tags
Tags make your post searchable and allows them to show up in that tag’s thread. Use the most relevant tags first. Tumblr only tracks the first 5 tags so make them count.
I’m bad about having a running commentary in my tags that I don’t feel like including in the main body of the post … sort of like author notes if you will.
#8: Get Xkit—You Will Thank Yourself Later
Tumblr isn’t always … well run. XKit helps it run a little more smoothly with some very nice features.
I love Tumblr, but it can be very broken at times. Xkit helps out by giving you tools which Tumblr lacks. Like being able to blacklist certain posts or user, or having a pre-made set of tags. I use this latter feature for when I post about my books. This way, I’m always using the same tags so the posts are that much easier to find.
And you can mute certain blogs. It works a lot the same way as mute on Facebook. My favorite extension is the one that does away with ads. *smile*
#9: Stay Professional
This of course goes for any social media website, and I really shouldn’t have to explain this. *smile*
#10: Keep It Real
Be yourself. Post what you truly enjoy. You’ll gain followers as you do.
It’s not going to be a quick thing. It’s taken me three years to go from under 100 followers to nearly 1000. But it will happen if you are authentic and approachable.
Why Tumblr Can Be Rewarding for Authors
These are the things I’ve found to work for me on Tumblr. Just like any other social media, it’s going to take time and effort to see results. But the journey there is often its own reward.
The reason why I enjoy Tumblr and find it to be the most rewarding out of all the social media sites I’m a part of is the ease of connecting with readers. It’s much easier to find like-minded individuals and engage them on Tumblr without the need to spend money to boost posts or follow a million people.
It’s easier, less cluttered, more versatile, and cheaper than trying to promote yourself on other social media sites, and you can still cross post to all your other social media too. In short, it’s definitely worth the time and effort, and you just might find it your go-to site after a while.
Here is a list of blogs I recommend following to get yourself started, my own Tumblr included. *smile*
About Davonne Burns, writing as Bran Lindy Ayres:
I write sci-fi/fantasy for MOGAI readers who enjoy excitement, intrigue and romance and want stories focused on characters like themselves.
As an avid reader and writer and a member of the MOGAI (Marginalized Orientations, Genders, Alignments and Intersex) community, it’s my goal to bring the more marginalized orientations and gender identities into the public conscious. I write romance for those of us who are more interested in the emotional journey and who like to see healthy loving relationships grounded in mutual respect and trust. My characters are complex, flawed and true-to-life portrayals of the struggles of being different from society’s norms.
My hope is that by sharing these stories that readers will find characters and situations to relate to and see that love does indeed come in all shapes and sizes. Having your race, orientation and/or gender represented in books you love is incredibly important to a sense of self-worth and everyone deserves to be represented.