With limited or no knowledge of your background, skills, training, experience or business, there will always be somebody else painting a black and white picture of what your path to success should look like. Nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to your online presence. Too many experts pontificating on the right way to do things (the way they’re doing it) and the wrong way to do things (any other method they don’t like).
The questions each of us should ask ourselves are simple. What are you putting energy into that isn’t giving you anything back? What are you spending time on that is or isn’t worth the effort?
I’m not an expert. I just play one online. Here are some of my own answers.
Website ads: It took years for it to happen, but my website gets plenty of traffic these days. Some people advocate selling ads on the site to give you more revenue. Personally, I don’t like seeing them on another person’s site, so I don’t put them on mine. If I had a physical storefront on a main street, I wouldn’t block up my own window and doorway with billboards for other businesses, even if they were paying me.
Blogging: I love watching the ‘you should blog/blogging is dead’ argument that pops up now and then. My take on blogging is simple. I enjoy writing, I do it well enough, and I find that keeping what amounts to an online diary of my work to be an enjoyable process. It’s interesting to look back on thoughts and perspectives I had a few years ago and compare them to what I think today.
If I didn’t enjoy writing, however, I wouldn’t keep a blog, no matter what anybody said, because it wouldn’t sound genuine.
Social Media: When I joined Facebook, the goal seemed to be to get as many friends as I could and that would tell people whether I was popular or not. That got old really fast. So I started a business page. Then I had to get those people that were friends to ‘like’ my business page. Get as many ‘likes’ as I could and that would tell people how popular my business was. This becomes an exercise in groveling. I didn’t like it.
Here’s what I know now.
I’ve put the brakes on my personal page and focused my energy on only having my business page. I’ll include links to it in posts, give away prints from time to time and promote it when appropriate, but I’m no longer holding my hat out, getting people to ‘like’ it out of guilt. It stinks of desperation. I want people to like my page only if they like my work.
My personal page still keeps me connected to other people and the pages and information I like, and allows me to comment on those, so there is still value in having a personal page. Connections are very important and interaction on social media is a two way street.
But you have to control your own experience. Everybody has that one person that posts ten cat videos in a row, or is constantly picking a fight or complaining, or turns every one of your posts into an opportunity to further their own agenda. I hide those people from my feed, block them or unfriend them and I don’t feel bad about it. With a limited amount of energy available to me in a day, I can’t afford for social media drama to sap any of it.
Facebook gives me the most return for the time invested. The people who follow my work there are the ones with whom I interact the most. I get regular work and referrals from both new and repeat customers.
LinkedIn hasn’t done much for me, but then again, I haven’t done much with it. I can say the same thing for Google+. It costs me very little time to post my cartoons, blog links and other business related happenings to Facebook, Twitter and Google+, so I continue to do that. But despite how many followers I have on all three, Facebook gives me the most interaction and traffic (the numbers don’t lie), Twitter a distant second, and Google+ a very dismal third, even though if you look at my profile, it shows the most followers out of all three. For me, Google+ is quantity, not quality.
Too many people are flailing about trying to be everything to everybody and following every bit of advice that’s offered them, even when it ends up being completely contradictory. There is safety in numbers, which is why sheep and other animals will form a herd. But, if safety were my biggest concern, I’d still be working for somebody else, and wouldn’t have left the herd in the first place.
So here’s one more bit of advice, which you are free to ignore. Take a moment to look at your online presence with fresh eyes. Take a breath. Then ask yourself what’s working for you and what isn’t. If something is paying off, helping your business grow and showing promise, then keep doing that. For everything else, cut it loose, despite what ‘the experts’ are saying. Adapt, move forward, and ignore the herd.