Monday, April 1, 2013

Like an Online Writing Conference (guest post Linda G. Hatton)

Before April 2012, I had reached a point in my writing path when I was considering attending a writing conference. A couple of factors changed my mind about going through with it. Mainly, my schedule was overloaded with my kids’ activities and I wanted to be sure my writing skills were advanced enough before spending the money.

Still, I craved a networking opportunity. I also wanted the knowledge I would gain from attending a conference: tips on publishing, platform building, and querying, to name a few.


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Platform Challenge
So when April came around, hoping to gain some of this education, I decided to participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s Platform Challenge. I went places I never imagined, all from the comfort of my kid-activity-monopolized lifestyle.

His challenge included such activities as joining a handful of social networking sites, some of which I had previously avoided: Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Participants were also asked to start a blog or spruce it up if they already had one. Other exercises included creating an editorial calendar, commenting on other blogs, pitching at least one guest post blog to another blog owner, and contacting an expert for an interview post.

I was more successful at some of the assignments than others. For instance, I still haven’t perfected the art of my own editorial calendar, though I am determined to eventually find a method that works best for my style of writing (“seat of my pants”).

Since I had already signed up for Facebook, I could breathe on that day.

I fumbled around on Twitter during the challenge and can say that, one year later, I am actually beginning to enjoy it and I now regularly participate in Twitter chats.


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Take the Challenge
If you haven’t yet participated in the challenge, pick a month to commit to working through the assignments on a daily basis. At the end of the month, focus on your “weaker” areas or tasks you haven’t completed, easing your way in if you have to. As an example, it’s easier to pitch a guest blog post to a friend, but once you’ve accomplished that, move on to pitching to blog owners you don’t know personally.

One of the best parts about participating is the group of supportive and helpful writer friends I have made, most of whom now congregate as a community under the name Wordsmith Studio. I can’t imagine I would have gained such a supportive system from networking over just a few days.

Overall, participating in Robert’s challenge was the best thing for me. It not only helped me to build my confidence as a writer, but also taught me some very handy skills in marketing myself. Most importantly, it helped me to come out of my shell of shyness, so that when I do actually make it to a writing conference, I think I will be better prepared to network in person


Linda G. Hatton spends her days writing—poetry, novels, screenplays, web codes, or notes to her children. Otherwise she gets a little cranky. Read more about Linda at her writer website. Also, check out her online literary publication, Mouse Tales Press.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Also, check out previous Not Bob posts:


Anonymous said...

This is fantastic, Linda. I feel the same way. It was an amazing experience and I'm so thankful for not only how much I've learned, but all the wonderful friendships I've forged. Whenever you are ready for that conference, let me know and we can meet up!

bolton calrey said...

I'm right there with you, Linda. It taught me a ton about marketing, and I'm even more glad I got introduced to you!

Linda G. Hatton said...

Aaww . . . shucks! See? This is why I love you guys! Any remaining conference jitters are melting away even more after reading this. Thank you!

Gail Kushner said...

During the challenge, I tried so many new media avenues which I had never thought I would try. I still use most of them (sorry Google+). I agree with you that the best part of the challenge was the wonderful, supportive community of writers which we formed. And, the traffic to my blog has doubled in the last year. Woo-hoo!

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I definitely agree that the relationships forged are one of the best outcomes of the challenge. I can relate to your entire post! Thanks for putting it into words. :)

Gerry said...

You said it for all of us, Linda. We learned together, and so many of us *stayed* together after Robert's challenge and forged friendships that sustain us. Great post. I'm glad we met up!

Linda G. Hatton said...

Gail, It's so wonderful the progress we have all made! What great success you have made to have doubled your blog traffic! Congrats!

Thank you for your continued support, Lara!

And you, too, Gerry. I'm so glad to have met you as well.

Unknown said...

I love the description of Robert's challenge as an "online writing conference," because that really is what it feels like! And, Linda ... you are always a wonder to me! You did so much, and continue to do so much, in and through and after this challenge! Kudos, lady :) And thank you for sharing this--a great read with great insight and advice.

Sabra Bowers said...

Fun to read what the challenge meant to you, Linda. It was a fast paced education on platform building, but we also knew we could go at our own pace if we needed to. I needed to, but I finally did finish all the tasks. The learning hasn't stopped for me because I continue to learn from you and the others in WSS. Great read. Thanks for sharing with us. I'm glad to be a part of this happening.

Veronica Roth said...

Terrific post Linda, very open and honest. I’m glad you took some time to warm up to twitter, makes me feel I'm not’s still a space I’m not comfy with, but boy it’s been a great year overall, hasn’t it? Love that I know you. :)

Linda G. Hatton said...

Aww . . . gee, you guys have done it again. I'm sitting here with that big smile on my face.

Uh, Khara, I'm kind of confused about your comment because you are the one always accomplishing *something* (like running your own challenges). You amaze me with your never-ending supply of energy!

Sabra, that is part of what's so great about this community. We continue to learn from each other!

Veronica, I love that I know you, too! Your words, photos, and art radiate peace and beauty.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting, all of you. Here's looking forward to the year ahead!

Jennifer Chow said...

Great job, Linda! I'm so glad to be a part of this community. Thanks for reminding us that we can do so many things online to boost our writing careers.

Kasie Whitener said...

Great job, Linda. Like Jennifer, I'm so proud to be part of this community. I, too, struggled with the editorial calendar. Interestingly, a year later, it's the only thing I still am not fully committed to.

Thanks for reminding me!

Jeannine B. Everett said...

Yay Linda! I love that what we learned together is what has kept us together--using social media has forged some incredible relationships. It's not just for spam. When used well, it's a powerful tool for connection. The skills I learned made me a better writer. Valuable stuff. Meeting you and all of the other WS folks gave me inspiration and support. Priceless.

Kelly Ann Williamson said...

Such a great take on our experience. It did feel like breaking the ice with other writers, and that will lead to so much more for all of us. The people we met, the connections we made, are all priceless. Awesome post!

Mariya Koleva said...

This comment section is like a class reunion. So, let me join you in saying that I feel the same. I was more of a failure at most assignments, but I went at my own pace :-) So, I guess, this challenge may be considered a success!

Linda G. Hatton said...

Jennifer, It is wonderful for mothers like us who have little time away from the nest. As our kids get older, it's only a matter of time when we will be able to start getting away more. And we will be better prepared thanks to Robert's advice and guidance! I'm glad we were able to meet through the challenge, Jennifer!

Kasie, How interesting that you have the same struggle with the calendar. Are you a "pantser" writer or do you like to outline?

I'm so happy to have met you all! Thank you for stopping by and offering your support!

(I'm going to respond to the rest in another comment.)

Linda G. Hatton said...

Jeannine, You made a good point! "The skills I learned made me a better writer." I feel the same about my own writing. The various avenues of social media have different writing requirements that can only add up to better overall writing. Twitter requires concise writing while brushing up on SEO fits blog posting. I'm so glad to have met you, and you both, Kelly Ann and Mariya. It does feel like a class reunion! Now we have to aim for having one in person. :-)

Melanie Marttila said...

And we're off! Great way to start things off, Linda :)

Lauri Meyers said...

It seems like just yesterday, I was sitting there saying "what's twitter?" and "create a blogging schedule? For reals?" Oh but we have all come so far since then. Maybe it's time for an advanced skill PAD?

Linda G. Hatton said...

Thanks so much, Melanie!
LOL, Lauri, perfectly put! And I think you're on to something with the advanced version!
Thank you both for your support!

Julia Tomiak said...

Yay Linda! I get so much help and inspiration from the community. Even as I'm wrestling with Jane Friedman's recent advice for new writers to be cautious about spending too much time on platform, I am so thankful for the Platform Challenge, and I know that participating has improved my writing and my enthusiasm. I'm also glad to hear from another mom struggling to balance it all...

Linda G. Hatton said...

Hi Julia, Thanks for your comment. It is definitely nice to have the support of other mom writers. I appreciate your support!

Muddy said...

This was great Linda! It's a great reminder of all I've accomplished through the challenge, and a gentle reminder of how much I have yet to do. Baby steps, right? :)