The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive

Congratulations you made a Thing! You poured your heart into an artistic representation of how you really see and feel about the world, and now you want as many people to see/hear/read/consume as possible. So you put it on the internet and you wait.

Your friends start to check it out, and if they like it or are just good friends they tell their friends and maybe you start to build an audience. So you make some more Things and everyone likes that and the number of people see/hear/read/consuming your stuff goes up and you feel great.

And then you are at a party, or you are hanging out with friends and you mention your Thing only to hear that most loathsome of phrases.

"You have a [blog|podcast|band|video series]? I had no idea, why didn't you tell me?"

All you can think to yourself, aside from your murderous rage, is "All I ever do is fucking talk about my Thing! Are you not listening to me at all?" You post about your Thing to all the relevant social-networks, your friends are talking about it all the time, you even had fancy business cards printed that you can hand out to strangers and leave on tables full of other fancy business cards at coffee shops. How dare they?

Surely you do not want to become one of those people who is only ever talking about their Thing, always tweeting and retweeting anytime someone mentions it. They are the worst and you are way more tasteful in how you talk about your Thing.

This is something I have gone through, though I now think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I do think that person who self-promotes too much is a thing, but in general we all could stand to do some more.

My best estimate is that most people are reading/seeing less than half of what you post to social networks, either because Facebook is hiding your posts or because you are being drowned out in the ever-quickening Twitter firehose.

The idea that everyone who follows you is reading every single one of your posts (especially on Twitter) is ludicrous. If you only talk about your Thing once a day and it is during a busy part of the day or someone just decided not to look at Twitter in that time, you are not doing enough.

It all comes down to perception. The self-promotional "Is that all they ever talk about?" line is different for everyone. Some people are going to see any self-promotion in this light, and there is not much you can do for them. Other people understand that you are working to get your Thing out there, but everyone has a tolerance limit that you should keep in mind.

That said, I think we all tend to be way too conservative. The gap between nobody actually hearing about your thing and being that person is a lot wider than we want to believe.

So with that in mind, here are the set of rules that I try to follow:

  1. You could always stand to do some more self-promotion

  2. Only post "call to action" messages with a link (eg: "I wrote a thing, here is the link please click it please") every few hours. I try to wait at least four hours between them and do it during different parts of the day.

  3. In the meantime, continue talking about stuff that is not your Thing. Self-promotion should never constitute more than 20% of what you say. You might want a higher threshold, I tweet a lot so I am trying to balance that.

  4. Instead of just saying "Please look at my thing", try to talk about it and why it matters to you. Also you do not always need to link it whenever you talk about it.

  5. Never retweet direct compliments, that shit is tacky.

I am in no way an expert, but I have had way more success doing whatever this is in the last year than I expected to so I hope this can be helpful for you as well.