Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Casting Your Net

I just joined a few more online billboards.

This means, besides my blog and website, I'm maintaining 12 other hubs on the Internet. If you're curious, here are all the links:

Joe's Amazon blog:
Joe on Facebook:
Joe on CrimeSpace:
Joe on Goodreads:
Joe on ITW:
Joe on LinkedIn:
Joe on MySpace:
Joe on RedRoom:
Joe on Shelfari:
Joe on Squidoo:
Joe on Twitter:
Joe on Wikipedia:

Some require more maintenance than others. MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter lead the pack, needing to be updated almost daily. Others, such as Goodreads, Shelfari, RedRoom, and Crimespace, are fine to check up on once a week. The resy are mostly sites I can visit once a month. Squidoo and Lijit can be set up to practically run themselves.

Of course, the more time you spend on each of these, the more effective it becomes as a billboard.

At this point, I'm fine with having a toehold in each of these communities. People join them looking for books, or friends, or just something to entertain or inform, and I've made it easy for them to find something that fits the bill: Me.

That's the first step. But to truly take advantage of Internet relationships, the next step involves time. Time to seek out people on these sites. Time to announce yourself on them. Time to respond to those who have contacted you.

But is it worthwhile?

As the world continues its race into a digital future, it is becoming more and more common to have relationships with people you never actually meet in real life. And unlike real life, these relationships often have less baggage and more leeway. You aren't required to do as much, give as much, or be as responsible with online friends as with real life friends.

And yet, your online friends can vastly outnumber your real life friends, and they can also be a gigantic feather in your self-promotion cap. They can help spread the word. They can buy your books.

I've mentioned many times that people are searching for two things on the Internet: Information and Entertainment. While a visual medium, the net is still all about words. You enter words into Google. You read words in response.

Who better to blaze a trail in this frontier than people skilled to use words?

Your words, in the form of communication and correspondence, are a very effective way to garner supporters online. Your words, when advising and entertaining, will help to keep these relationships going, and are also helping to build relationships with people who you don't even know exist.

The majority of folks who visit my blog and website and billboards are lurkers. They stop by. They read. And if they like what the read, they often buy my books. All without ever letting me know.

It's great to have cheerleaders, linking to you, mentioning you, corresponding with you. But it's also great to have a silent audience who doesn't ask for more than the time you've already given creating a blog or homepage or billboard.

So I don't mind maintaining these billboards. And as more social networking sites spring up and gain popularity, I'll go there as well. I want to be where the people are. I have information and entertainment to give them, but it is only useful to them if they know it exists.