Social Media for Writers: How to set up your social media profile

February 19, 2017
Wondering how to set up your social media profile? Why is a profile picture so important, and what should your Twitter bio say? In this post, I cover all the basics.

So last time I talked about the different social media channels that are available to you. Once you’ve picked a social network to roll with, you need to set up your profile.

(To complete beginners: hit the ‘sign up’ button. You basically just need your email address. Follow the steps and put in your name and whatever. They make it really straightforward to follow.)

Now the first important thing to consider is your username.

This is your writing profile, remember, so if you use a penname, try to use that. It’s professional, too – so avoid something like ‘sexibeast2012’. There’s nothing wrong with using something that’s not your real name, but keep is sensible, you know? If you’ve got a common name, maybe try adding ‘writer/author/books’ something like that to distinguish yourself.

Next up: profile picture.

You look a thousand times more professional if you ditch the standard-issue image and use a profile picture. Use a headshot, if you’re happy with that. And also: if you’re using a picture of yourself, keep it a picture of just yourself, not a big group photo with your friends. These pictures are pretty small on phones and you want people to recognise you. 

If you’re not happy using your face, that’s totally fine! Plenty of writers use their book cover as their profile picture. Or you could use something a bit more bookish, like a cup of coffee in front of a pile of books.

That’s your username and profile picture sorted, so now for the next vital step to creating your online profile: your bio.

So your bio, or account/profile description, is a small section on your profile anyone can see, and it’s a tiny snapshot of who you are and what you’re about. Twitter and Instagram offer only a limited number of characters, and whilst a blog or Facebook or other profiles might not cut you off past 200 characters, people might not read five paragraphs. This isn’t your life story. Save that for your ‘About Me’ page on your blog or website. 

Your bio answers two questions: who are you and what do you do? It can be a little fun and quirky, or totally professional. It just has to be clear. Here are a couple of examples of what mine are:

Twitter: “I write books and drink tea. YA author (namely, The Kissing Booth) and Physics graduate. Repped by @CPWally. Visit my blog [LINK]”

Instagram: “21-year-old YA author, all around nerd, and BSc Physics graduate. Check out my blog in the link below, or visit my website [LINK] xo”

Slightly different wording but the same message. I’m introducing myself (a YA author with a physics degree) and I’ve directed people to my blog where they can read more about me or my books.

Those three elements (bio, photo, username) are possibly the most important ones to set up your profile. They’re what will draw people in and get them to follow you (and you want to build your audience, right?)

Most social networks offer some kind of functionality to add a link (your book on Wattpad? A link to purchase the ebook? Your blog?) and location (which can be as vague as you want). 

You may want to add a cover/header photo (that’s the one that stretches across the top of your profile). It could be your book cover or a cute picture of a sunset or your bookshelves. I decided to make one that’s got my name, ‘I write books and drink tea’, and a couple of my social network usernames. And some artful paint splatters. I’m a sucker for artful paint splatters.

Different sites have different functionalities, but I’ll go into more depth on those in later posts. 

Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious: don’t make your profile private.

It’s totally fine (and reasonably normal) to have a private account for your personal life, sure, but this account is to promote yourself as a writer and promote your books. You want to be able to interact with people, and you can’t do that with a locked and private account.

And on that note – remember that you’re trying to display yourself in a professional light. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about your personal life if you want to, because, you know, it’s social media, and that’s what we do, and it just makes you human. 

But maybe keep the drunk messages and links to your favourite smutty fanfic and flippant cursing off if you write children’s books, or something. People judge. You’re presenting an image of yourself on social media. It’s important to remember that.

Next post: all about promoting your book on Twitter. Stay tuned!

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