Beyond the Blog: Developing Your Online Presence as a Writer
We recently highlighted ways that some of you integrate Tumblr into your online routine and use this platform to complement your…
We recently highlighted ways that some of you integrate Tumblr into your online routine and use this platform to complement your work on WordPress.com, which is your online hub. Since the internet is a very big playground, let’s talk about other ways to develop your web presence and personal brand strategically, as well as use WordPress.com to promote your writing in a way that makes sense for you.
Look for submission guidelines on your favorite sites
If you’re an active writer and blogger, you’re probably an avid reader, too. Pay attention to the menus, footers, and About pages of your favorite blogs and websites — it’s here where you’ll find details on submission policies for publications that accept the work of writers like you.
Think you’ve got what it takes to publish on Thought Catalog? Check out its Submissions page. Interested in contributing one great image or one 1,000-word piece to 1:1000? Read the Submit page. Got an excellent piece of narrative nonfiction? Read the Submission Guidelines for Vela.
These are just a few examples — there are many, many more opportunities out there, so check the submission details for the blogs, websites, and publications you read and respect. A number of collaborative sites within our WordPress.com community also accept guest posts, from Broken Light to A Manic World — these are great ways to test the waters, too.
Test new, extra, or unrelated material elsewhere
What about using other platforms to experiment with material? Maybe you’re a travel blogger interested in writing quick-style musings on the many landmarks you visit in a country, but don’t want to write longer posts about each place.
Enter Hi, a platform for real-time storytelling around the world. Here, you can publish a sketch: a 20-word snippet of text and an image connected to a location, which is a quick way to share a thought or idea from wherever you may be. While great for people interested in travel, place, personal musings, and photography, Hi could be used in a way that’s appropriate for you.
How about a publishing space like Medium? Medium is a place for writing, brought to you by the makers of Twitter. If you primarily write about K-12 education on your blog but have other interests, for example, Medium might be an outlet to try new ideas and explore topics you normally don’t write about, but also to find new readers and invite them back to your home at WordPress.com. (On Medium, there’s a tool called Further Reading, through which you can link back to your blog and related posts.)
Many of you ask if it’s better to maintain separate blogs for different interests — a blog for your food recipes and a second blog for your parenting posts, for instance. Similarly, some of you ask about how to better differentiate your personal musings from more professional work. We know how much work it takes to create and build a new blog; why not consider publishing one-off pieces on a platform like Medium to experiment with material — and promote your blog and gain new readers in the process?
For the photographers out there, Exposure is a platform to create photo narratives. From displaying single images to dragging-and-dropping to create image galleries, there are tools here for image-heavy posts with bits of text.
Let’s say you took more than a hundred pictures from your recent trip to Spain; do you have a bunch of unused takes that aren’t fitting for your blog post but are still worth sharing? Create a complementary post on Exposure to promote your work — and gain new followers from a different network. On these other platforms, you create a user profile, on which you’ll link back to your primary blog, here on WordPress.com.
One thing we’d like to emphasize: you don’t have to branch out; you might be fine crafting and honing your online presence right here. But the internet is huge, and as online publishers, we face many options. We think it’s important to introduce different tools out there to ensure you get the most out of your experience on the web.
Use WordPress.com to compile your best writing
We’ve all launched blogs for different reasons, so you’ll see fellow bloggers using WordPress.com in ways that fit their needs. Some writers use WordPress.com as a space to showcase their greatest hits elsewhere. Cody Delistraty, a writer, researcher, and historian based in New York and Paris, contributes to Pacific Standard, The TODAY Show, and other publications.
On his personal blog, Cody publishes original pieces mixed with reposts and revised versions of articles elsewhere, like this post on the modern expatriate (published on Peregrine) and this piece on big philosophical questions (which appeared in different form on Thought Catalog). On WordPress.com, he compiles the work he’s proud of across the internet, so his readers can follow along in one place and read work they wouldn’t otherwise see. In addition, he includes a link in his menu to his Contently profile, a space for freelancers and journalists to compile professional work.
Likewise, Emily at Rosie Says writes at numerous publications, including Jezebel, the Huffington Post, and XOJane. She uses her blog to publish original work (like this piece on white feminism) as well as share writing at Role/Reboot, adding context and directing readers to related posts, too (see the post “Solo in the City”).
If you share writing that lives elsewhere on the web, you can approach it in different ways:
- Publish excerpts in your posts, and then link to the rest.
- Offer backstory or research about the article.
- Provide an anecdote about the piece, which supplements your professional work with more of a personal angle.
- Publish additional information that might have been cut from the original.
General tips on organizing and presenting your work on your WordPress.com blog or website:
- Consider creating pages for the publications you write for regularly — and add tabs for these pages in a custom menu. (Or, simply add custom links to your menu to other profiles or accounts, as Cody does above.)
- Create custom featured images for recurring topics or specific publications, which you can use for these posts to differentiate them from other writing. (You can create a custom featured image using the process Ben notes in his tutorial on creating a custom header.)
- Make a “Best of” page with a list of links to your favorite work on other platforms to keep your greatest hits in one place, as I’ve done on my own blog.
What about you? Are you a freelance writer or blogger publishing on multiple platforms? We’d love to hear your methods.
Elyssa D. Durant. Ed.M.Research & Policy Analyst