I am bad at networking.
In fact, I totally suck at it – especially when it goes beyond networking and goes into the realm of self-marketing. It’s one of those skills I’ll have to learn – and would love to outsource to someone more talented at it if only I could afford to do so.
Still, world-building (and creating other stuff) in a complete vacuum is not nearly as much fun – and in a way is fairly pointless. What good is your awesome con world if there’s no one there to enjoy it?
This is what I am doing – and I am sure there’s more to do, so I’d love to hear your comments and advice:
- Blog: Well this one is a no-brainer. Try to post on a regular schedule. Don’t be worried if you have zero readers for a long time. Create quality content and they will come. And the opposite is true as well: Stop maintaining your blog and your readers will disappear quicker than they arrived. If you have a productive phase, don’t hesitate to queue up articles for the future – a (semi-) regular schedule is much more effective than a burst of postings because you have an overall higher chance to get noticed.
- Twitter: Get a twitter account. Follow people who post informative material you are interested in. Learn about good twitter manners. Don’t do “follow for follow back” or anything like that – it’s mostly worthless. Don’t spam twitter with advertisement (now and then is okay, but don’t overdo it) nor with trivialities. Nobody cares about your bowel movements. Do automate notifications to twitter when you post to your blog.
- Facebook, Google Plus: These do not work for me, but I dislike Facebook and do not put much effort into either of these. It probably makes sense to build both up – once you start having a following, especially if it’s a consumer-based following, Facebook especially is probably still a must.
- Forums and other Blogs: Find a handful of forums and other blogs that actually interest you. Contribute. Make sure you have a signature on the forums. But do not use them for self-promotion; be part of the community. If you like someone’s work, give them feedback. If you think something can be improved, give them feedback. Don’t flame or have bad manners – people will remember, and they will ridicule extreme cases. You don’t want to become known as the “worldbuilder who had a meltdown”. Common sense, really, but there you go.
- Gravatar and Identity: Brand yourself. Come up with some sort of name you operate under. Can be your real name, or the name of your setting, or whatever. Do at least a Google search to see what else your identity is used for. Trademark protection is probably too expensive unless you are really serious about it (and even then it’s probably too expensive). But whatever you do, create a custom twitter background, pick a nice theme for your blog, pay attention to colors and font choice. Sign up with Gravatar and upload an icon for the email account you use on forums and blogs – a lot of sites pull them in and it makes you stand out from the anonymous and/or auto-generated icons.
- Give to the community: If you are reasonably good at something, consider releasing content you create under an open license. Public Domain if you are really generous, or a Creative Commons license. The later is well-suited if you require people to credit you (with a link to your blog). Post to relevant forums and/or twitter about it. If your content is at all usable, people will latch onto this. It gets you referrals, new followers, and above all, a lot of goodwill over time.
- Sign up for a blog network: The RPGBA is a fairly strong blog network that covers role-playing sites. Worldbuilding almost always fits that niche. It’s not a huge traffic source but it helps – plus there’s hope the RPGBA will become more of a networking tool. There are probably also blog networks for other topics – fiction, movies, whatever – but I haven’t looked around much.
That said – I am hardly an expert on any of this. I am probably naive, but I firmly believe that making your content the best you can is the best long term strategy, but of course it doesn’t help if people notice you.
What do you guys do to “promote” your work?