How to Start a Blog in 53 Easy Steps (Part Three)

Part Three – Develop your Social Media Presence and Prowess

Word to the Wise

Presence: (noun) the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing; a person or thing that exists or is present in a place but is not seen.

Step 1: You are going to need a Twitter and an Instagram to start with. Come to think of it, you’re not sure what else you’ll need because you basically live under a rock and don’t even have a personal Instagram, and the only reason you even remember you have a personal Twitter is because it got hacked last summer and your email blew up with complaints from friends about your inert social media account embarrassing you without your knowledge or consent. Don’t worry, it happens.

Step 2: We’ll start with Twitter. Your BFF texts you back mid-morning telling you she loves your idea for a Twitter handle (@singlemomreading). You open a corresponding gmail account (once you get blogging, you’ll need to carefully separate your personal email from all the fan mail or engaging book conversations you’ll get into with strangers). You download the Twitter app and sign up. It’s so freaking easy and it takes like two minutes, so you’re totally not worried about doing this between tasks at work. Huh… Twitter wants your phone number. They say they’ll keep it private, so what the heck. Finish signing up and decide you’ll come back to it when you’re off work later.

Step 3: Receive a text from a coworker – “Welcome to Twitter, singlemomreadin!” Oh. Shit. Realize simultaneously that every one of your phone contacts who is also on Twitter (including over two dozen coworkers) have been instantaneously alerted that you are now on Twitter, even though you really wanted to keep this whole blog project as an anonymous online thing to connect with other introverted book lovers. Check pulse to ensure you have not died of humiliation. Await email from your boss telling you are fired for doing personal things while at work. Swear you’ll never do it again.

Step 4: Now you can get back to the other half of that realization – Twitter handles can only be 15 characters long, and the phrase you attempted to use is 16. They cut you off and didn’t even warn you. Ok, maybe there was some sort of rule written on the page explaining this, but you were trying to just get it done between tasks at work and not exactly reading every word on your tiny phone screen. But really, they should alert you if you try to type more than 15 characters into that box. The people @Twitter are #jerks.

Step 5: Lurk on Twitter for about a week. Follow as many authors as you can find. (Make a mental note to stop searching for dead authors. Charles Dickens and JD Salinger are not on Twitter.) Get an idea of how people communicate on Twitter. Experiment with re-tweeting. That feels good, doesn’t it? Wait for something to happen, some sort of interaction with the vast corpus of users in the Twittersphere. Try not to feel awkward or self-conscious when no one responds or finds the amazing New Yorker story you tweeted to be worth liking or retweeting. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out eventually…

Step 6: Establish yourself on Instagram. You’ve never used Instagram before, but hey, it’s free and like everybody is doing it, so it can’t be all that hard, right? Your BFF promises it’s easy and painless, plus you get to follow accounts like HotDudesReading, which is more or less porn for bookworms, but without the risk of viruses or the awkward shame of having watched actual porn and then questioning how badly you’ve disappointed everyone you’ve ever slept with.

Step 7: Find the Instagram app on Google play and hit Install. Spend an hour deleting old pictures, podcasts you’re never going to relisten to, and screenshots of FB posts from ex-boyfriends that you had to commiserate over with your BFF. Now that you have enough space, proceed to download the app. Get the 30 second tutorial from your BFF. Follow as many bookstagrammers as you can find. Holy heck there are like ten million people on this platform posting amazing artistic shots of books and bookshelves organized rainbowgorically, and they all drink fancy coffee beverages and wear adorable socks and have forty different species of organic tree branches and flowers on hand to complement any book cover plus an arsenal of artisan hand-crafted blankets for backdrops of their daily book still lifes…

Step 8: Look around at your messy apartment, piles of books accumulating on every conceivable surface and arsenal of hand-me-down baby blankets. Decide you’re going to have to do this bookstagram thing a little differently… And you should probably invest some time picking up your apartment.

Step 9: Ok, now that your place is tidier (until the weekend when your 6-year-old will wreck the place while you “sleep in” until 9 am), take a picture of a bookshelf to use as your profile pic. Hey – a picture of your own shelf – a shelfie! Text your BFF the clever new word you invented. Do not feel dismayed when she informs you, “Yeah, that’s a thing already…”

Step 10: Update your profile with a link to your super cute website! No one’s really looking at what you’re doing yet, so it’s no big deal that the site’s not live and it’s a dead link. Make sure to use a hashtag that references your site with every photo you post.

Step 11: Once you’ve got a few shots up on Instragram and you’re remembering to take pictures of the bookish activities you do throughout the week, you will begin to enjoy the delight of strangers “liking” your photos. You’ll even start to feel an odd sense of kinship and affection for a fellow bookstagrammer who likes all your pics, plus she posts some really adorable stuff and appears to work in a library! Check your cyber-friend-crush, but gush to a friend about how incredibly cool Instagram is because it allows you to connect with strangers who like the same things you do, without the self-consciousness of everyone you know judging the pictures you take or filters you use. Being an anonymous book lover on the internet is great, isn’t it? An introvert’s dream…

Step 12: Take a really funny photo of the “how to do a self-breast exam” pamphlet you’ve been using as a bookmark and inadvertently displaying in public as you read in the Mr. Tire waiting area. Decide to share on your bookstagram and personal Facebook account. You’ve seen someone share an Instagram photo on Facebook before but you couldn’t see their Instagram handle, so there must be some form of sharing while keeping your accounts separate, right? Since posting photos to Fb always seems to crash your phone, load your photo onto Instagram and click the little Fb icon.

Step 13: Wonder why your photo hasn’t posted to your Fb page.

Step 14: Wonder why Instagram is suddenly sending you an onslaught of push notifications. How in the Hell did people you know IRL find you on Instragram?

Step 15: Curse Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, whatever asshole invented the internet, and the Gods of the WorldWideWeb. Oh, really???? Screw you Instagram for not warning me that you were instantly going to tell every last one of my Facebook connections about this very personal, nascent foray into developing an online persona…

Step 16: As the friends, acquaintances, co-workers and former students that you hoped would never know about this secret desire to join the world of book bloggers begin to message you about your website, discover that your site is, in fact, live. And it’s clearly a template. And you feel like you are in one of those dreams where you show up to school/work/a wedding wearing only your underwear.

Perfect! Now that you’ve created your social media accounts and gotten your feet wet with fucking things up, it’s time to do the real work…

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