The Great Goodreads Confession of 2018 (from a Goodreads Author, Nonetheless)

Follow on Goodreads widget

Let me make a confession: technically, I’ve been a Goodreads member since 2008 or 2009. But I lost my username, password, and old email address. And I couldn’t get back in (can we say “BUMMER?”).

I know, I know.

For someone who wrote a science fiction dystopia about the future repercussions of a society that’s overdependent on technology, you’d think I could get back into my own Goodreads account.

Alas …

So here I am, blogging like a beggar, asking YOU to follow me on my new Goodreads Author page.

Go ahead. Laugh. Get it out of your system.

Now that we’ve cleared that, I do want to clarify that I love reviewing books. And discovering new books. And recommending new books. It’s kinda become my new thing. Seriously. And so much of that will be done on Goodreads.

So besides sounding like a desperate, needy, social media attention whore, I actually do offer some value on Goodreads and genuinely want to know what you’re reading, reviewing, and discussing as well. So what’dya say? Wanna connect on Goodreads?

 

 

 

3 Lessons from My Year Without Blogging

blog-break

I’ve been back to blogging for a few months now, but before that, I stepped away from the blogging world for a year to finish my novel.

When I re-launched Rogue Writer, one of my longtime blogging buddies, Nina Badzin, commented, “I would love to see a post on how it felt to step away and how it feels to be back. Did you stay off social media a lot more, too?”

Nina girl, I can always count on you for writing prompts! Thanks to Nina’s question, I’m now writing this post. So here are the top three lessons I took away from my year off blogging:

1) If you’re working on a larger creative project, DON’T BLOG. It will get in the way of your goal.

I make my living off freelance writing, social media strategy, and content marketing. So trust me when I say this confession was hard for me to publish!

When I stopped blogging, I was working a full-time job as social media manager for a large health insurance company. I worked 50-hour weeks. During that time, I was also chipping away at the novel which I’m now pitching to literary agents.

I had only a few hours of writing time each week. If I’d continued blogging, none of that creative energy would have gone toward my novel, and today, I’d be blogging about how I want to finish my book.

Blogging is fun, but it can sap energy and time which you may need to reach a larger goal. There will always be room later to pick up where you left off on your blog.

2) Taking a blogging break allows you to just enjoy life. Seriously.

When you’re blogging every week (sometimes more), you get caught in the constant need for fresh content. You’ve developed an expectation among your followers that you’ll publish new stuff. After awhile, that pressure can add stress to your life, rather than release it.

When I stepped away from blogging, I felt a sense of relief. My mind wasn’t constantly “on,” and I was able to immerse myself into the world I created for my book. THIS was relaxing. I also enjoyed life a bit more, not having to turn every experience into a piece of online entertainment.

3) You step back and use social media for its original purpose: to be social.

While I was blogging, I tended to use social media for promotional purposes. Build my presence. Increase engagement. Yada yada yada.

But when I stopped blogging, I also stopped posting to my public profiles. I occasionally posted, but it was never on a schedule. Instead, I stuck to using my personal Facebook profile, where I connect with “real” friends and family. I commented on pictures of my friends’ kids, posted photos of my cat, and shared my progress toward finishing my book.

This type of interaction proved to be much more gratifying, and sometimes even fed my creativity!

Have YOU ever taken a blogging break? I’m curious, what did you learn from it?


Hi! I’m Shari Lopatin. I’m a professional writer, editor, journalist, and social media strategist with a decade of experience in media and communications. I live in Phoenix, Ariz. and blog about finding a literary agent, writing tips, social media or tech trends, and sometimes current events. Oh yeah, I also edit novels for self-published authors or writers needing help before querying literary agents. Are we friends yet on Facebook and Twitter?


Why Quality Still Matters on Social Media

Happy kitten

Ever since Facebook’s latest algorithmic checkmate, the Internet has been buzzin’ about ways for brands to continue reaching their followers.

(In case you haven’t been tracking the trends, Facebook dropped its organic reach to low, single-digit percentages. In other words, if you don’t pay to promote your posts to your current followers, most won’t see you.)

Here are some of the conclusions I’ve read these past few months, from other social media experts:

  • It won’t stop at Facebook. Paying to reach your followers will become the new norm across all social media. Soon, other platforms—like Twitter and LinkedIn—may follow suit.
  • Creating quality content will no longer be enough. You’ll have to reinforce your message through as many places as possible (Facebook, LinkedIn, email, Twitter, etc.).
  • For the first time since social media swept the world off its feet, frequency of posts may supersede quality.

So whether you’re a writer, a business owner, or a content marketing nut, here’s what I want to talk about: this sudden notion that quantity will begin trumping quality. Ahem. Yeah, I don’t think so.

First, let me state this:

I do agree that you should reinforce your message through as many channels as possible, as long as it makes sense. Social media should never be your only marketing tool. When possible, include email, SEO/SEM, print, banner ads, T.V., radio, and even billboards.

But just because Mark Zuckerberg shook the rug under our feet, we should not start questioning the validity and importance of producing quality content. Why? It’s simple, really:

Even if you post five times per day, NO ONE will pay attention to your posts if they aren’t moved to action.

And my friends, only quality posts that are engaging, strategic, and visually compelling will prompt action—whether through likes, shares, link clicks, or comments. As a writer, you need to understand your audience, you need to know your voice, and you have to recognize what this medium was developed to do.

Social media was designed to be social, and I think many companies or brands have forgotten that. If your content isn’t quality, relevant, and engaging, it will be ignored.

Did you like this post? Then get more like it! Sign up for the Shari’s Ink eNewsletter and get FREE resources on social media news, publishing trends, and effective writing tips, every month. Shari Lopatin is a professional writer, editor, and social media manager living in Phoenix, Ariz. 

Why fruit hypnosis on Facebook might just save the world

If you want to try and understand how I come up with half the weird crap I post on this blog, here is a little peek into my daily world.

I might have actually discovered the cure to obesity in America. Seriously.

Facebook conversation on fruit

I rest my case.

—————————————————-

Like what you just read? Then don’t miss my next post! Type your email address into the field below, and get future blog posts sent to your inbox:

Crazy Sh*t that YouTube Brought Us

Could you imagine the look on your face 20 years ago, if someone said, “Facebook me and leave your email on my timeline.”

It’d probably look something like this:

confused baby

Social media has seriously changed our world, right? Well, after chatting with my boyfriend during my stimulating morning commute to work the other day, we both had an epiphany:

YouTube has brought us some seriously crazy sh*t.

I mean, stuff that would  never have existed 20 years ago. I can’t help but think: has any sociologist considered studying YouTube? Maybe writing a dissertation on it? Because YouTube is the EPITOME of what happens when humans have the ability to broadcast themselves.

Just look at this: 

1. Bickering cats playing Patty Cake

2. A white kid rapping so fast about random crap, my brain’s about to burst out my ears

3. Dance walking

4. A step-by-step on how girls pack a suitcase

5. A goat … yelling like a man

My life has finally reached enlightenment.

I may now die in peace. Thank you, YouTube!

QUESTION: What’s the craziest, weirdest, most outrageous YouTube video you’ve ever seen?

Is Twitter Still Popular (and Useful)?

Pondering BirdMaybe you’ve noticed it too, and you’re asking yourself the question:

Is Twitter still popular enough, that it’s worth your continued time investment?

The Pew Research

The Pew Research Center released its “Twitter Use 2012” findings at the end of May. Among them were:

  • 15 percent of online adults use Twitter, and 8 percent use it on a typical day;
  • The number of online adults who use Twitter on a typical day has doubled since May 2011, and quadrupled since late 2010;
  • The increase in smartphones might account for some of the increase in Twitter usage.

And yet … and yet … I find that the average tweeter’s posts are overlooked, more and more. Is it just me, or do only the news outlets, celebrities and thought leaders benefit from this once-awesome platform?

Twitter’s Evolution: Good or Bad for Writers?

I mention writers here, because I’M a writer, as are many of you. However, this can apply to anyone who is building an online presence.

According to an April, 2012 Mashable article, Twitter is still the number two most-used social platform (falling behind Facebook, which is number one). NBC reporters used Twitter to gather collective insight on public opinion during this year’s Summer Olympics. And I learned about the infamous Osama Bin Laden news on Twitter.

However, I’ve noticed it becoming harder and harder to build a presence on Twitter if you’re not already established. For those of us who are unknown writers (i.e. NOT Stephen King, Judy Blume, or Tina Fey), perhaps building a Twitter presence isn’t as important as … say … two years ago.

Maybe, what’s become more important, is for others to tweet your content, rather than you.

The NEW Twitter: Getting Shared is King

In my own experience, not many people will read a blog post when I tweet the link. However, if others tweet it, Twitter becomes a top traffic driver for my article that day.

Crazy, huh?

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: Twitter is important. You should retain a presence on it. However, if you’re not a thought leader, journalist, news outlet or celebrity, you’re better off concentrating on creating content others will share for you. And continue using Twitter as a feed to stay on top of industry trends.

What do you think? Have you noticed any of the trends I mentioned above? Is Twitter still useful for YOU?

Publish Your Blog to Kindle! (I Just Did)

So … did you know Amazon offers a way to publish your blog to the Kindle? If you didn’t, I’m telling you right now. I just published mine!

[Check out Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer on Kindle!]

I mean, GUYS, this is seriously cool. This means that anyone with one of these nifty little e-readers can absorb the life-altering words of your blog directly from their Kindles. They can read it like an e-book!

If your interest is piqued, here is a list of pros and cons I discovered regarding taking the plunge:

The Pros

  • It expands your reach and offers another way for people to find and read you.
  • You get paid if people subscribe! The more people who subscribe through Kindle, the bigger your paycheck.
  • You can reach your target audience more accurately. Writers want to target readers, and Kindle owners LOVE to read.
  • It’s easy. Once you publish your blog to Kindle, Amazon does the rest. Just continue operating your blog, as if nothing changed.
  • It’s freakin’ cool to say your blog is available through Kindle. Maybe you’re not a published author (yet), but you can officially claim to be a “published blogger” … if it works like that.

The Cons

  • People have to pay a monthly subscription to access your blog through their Kindle, even though they can get it online FOR FREE.
  • Amazon sets the monthly subscription price; you have no control. The prices range from $0.99-2.99/month.
  • You make only 30 percent in royalties for your monthly subscriptions.
  • Not even the most popular blogs have many subscribers. I discovered this upon skimming through the Kindle blogs. So this may or may not be catching on yet.

Is It Worth It?

I’ll tell you in a few months, as my blog just published to the Kindle this Monday. However, my personal take is, “YES.”

I chose to take the plunge because it cost me nothing. Zip. Zero. And while this venture may not exactly pay my mortgage, I’m not doing it for the money. I’m doing it for the exposure.

Interested? Here’s How to Make It Happen

  1. Visit the Kindle Publishing for Blogs website.
  2. Create an account.
  3. Upload your blog. Make sure you have a screenshot of your blog, as well as its masthead.
  4. Save and preview your blog.
  5. Submit!

Be aware that Amazon will ask for your bank account information. This will be used to electronically pay you each month for your blog’s subscriptions.

And when you’re done, head over and see mine. It costs $0.99/month. I must admit, I’m very proud!

WILL YOU GIVE THIS A TRY? I want to hear your thoughts! Would you pay $0.99/month to read a blog on your Kindle? Will you consider publishing your blog to the Kindle? Do you think this additional platform is a good idea? Why or why not?

Are Blogs Dying?

Two weekends ago, I spent my Saturday and Sunday in Washington, D.C. (for the first time—yeah!) at the 7th Annual Military Blogging Conference … and an interesting subject arose during one of the panels.

Are blogs dying?

DeathAnd therefore, subsequently, is the future of sustaining an online presence moving the way of social engagement on Facebook pages and Twitter feeds only?

I found this to be fascinating, because several “old school” military bloggers, who’d been around since 2004/05, mentioned they’d noticed their readership vastly deteriorating. However, some younger bloggers talked about how their Facebook engagement was growing, the conversation therefore moving away from their blog to social networks.

The Social Movement

OK, so here’s what I think: Blogs are not dying (they better not be, or else what the freak am I doing here?). Their methods of drawing website traffic are merely evolving.

Is this a bad thing? Well, that depends on YOU. How resistant are you to accepting change and implementing it? From my personal, as well as professional experience, it appears blogs are not becoming obsolete; however, it’s completely pointless to maintain one if you’re not on Facebook, or Twitter, or both.

I’ve built a readership using my blog. It’s a way for me to write and find readers. I’ve even gained a few freelance jobs through this blog (God bless it!). However, if I relied on my blog solely, would I have reached success?

Definitely not.

I relied, and still do rely, on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other bloggers to drive traffic to my site. Without the “social platform,” my blog would not—and could not—survive.

Perhaps the bloggers at the conference had a point. Blogs, in their older forms, are dying. They are no longer the go-to hubs for conversation. Maybe it’s time to think of blogs in a different light. Let your social pages drive conversation, and let those conversations drive traffic to your blog, where visitors can delve deeper into subjects or ideas. Best of all, they can learn more about YOU.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are you seeing less traffic to your blog? Are blogs, in their original forms, dying?

*******************************************************************************

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy:

Subscribe to Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer by Email