Why I killed my social media accounts (+ why you may want to too…and what to do instead)

LAndTNotreDameThis post originally ran as this week’s Monday Motivation for Writers email. If you’d like to get an email full of writing advice and insights in your inbox every Monday, plus two free e-books for writers, you can join here.

Also, this email generated a TON of great responses, and many of them had helpful insights that I hadn’t thought of myself…so I got the authors’ permission to include their comments with this post. (They’re at the bottom. Apparently there’s a limit to the length of a WordPress post so I couldn’t include all of them. However, I am opening the Comments on this post in case you have something you’d like to share! Thanks!)

Enjoy!

Why I killed my social media accounts (+ why you may want to too…and what to do instead)

You’ve probably read a lot of those “Why I Quit Social Media” posts all over the Internet, and the arguments usually run along the lines of “Twitter is a time-suck” and “Why is it that everyone on Facebook is madly in love with their spouses, taking amazing vacations, landing lucrative (and fun!) freelance writing jobs, and gazing for hours at their perfect, adorable children? I must be a huge loser.”

This post will be different. And it starts, ironically, with an amazing vacation. (Sorry!)

My family and I just spent two weeks traveling around Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and France.

I decided this would be a non-working vacation — my first EVER since starting my freelance writing career in 1997. I can’t remember a single trip where I didn’t bring my laptop and stress out over the availability of public wifi. I was determined that this time would be different.

So, we visited old friends and a former exchange student, climbed the tallest church tower in The Netherlands, went to a genever festival and tried Belgian gin in chocolate cups (gin = yuck. chocolate = yum), toured an abbey that was founded in the 1100s, went on a food tour of Paris, and climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at night.

I love my work and thought it would be damn near impossible to keep my mind off of email, the blog, the classes I teach, marketing, writing, and so on. But, shockingly, I felt ZERO urge to do any work for the entire two weeks. I didn’t even take notes, write a to-do list, or check email. That was…different.

In the middle of the trip, I noticed something funny: My Tourette’s tics had completely disappeared, and the persistent heartburn I had been suffering from for the last few months had vanished as well. Hell, I even LOOKED better. (See that photo of us at the Notre Dame? Guess how old I am. I’m not trying to brag…I’m trying to say I DON’T USUALLY LOOK LIKE THAT.) I felt amazing, my skin glowed, and I even lost weight. I wondered if this was the result of actually, you know, relaxing. (Which is kind of a foreign concept for me, no pun intended.)

Then It All Came Back…And Ended with Social Media Suicide

On the drive from Paris back to the Düsseldorf airport for the flight home, it was like some switch went off in my brain: The tics came back, the heartburn returned in full force, and the stress eczema I sometimes get on my feet cropped up. This all occurred DURING the 5-hour drive to the airport. I won’t fuel your nightmares with a photo of what I looked like at this point. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. 🙂

As much as I enjoy what I do for a living, and have a wonderful home and family life, clearly something about returning home was stressing me out enough to cause strong physical symptoms. The body is sometimes so much smarter than the brain! But what was it telling me?

On the long plane trip back home, I did a lot of thinking and researching. (I had brought my iPad and paid for wifi on the plane.)

I normally work just six hours per day, Monday through Friday, which doesn’t seem like a lot…but I am such a productive Type-A person that I manage to get more done in my 30-hour workweek than most people can in 50 hours per week. (And I know this because they always tell me, “I work 50 hours per week and don’t get done half what you do!”)

However, I am also easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I should/could be doing. We business owners have to do it all!

I got to wondering — are there any activities in my work life that I don’t really need to be doing? Activities that are crowding out more important tasks that will have more of an impact?

An obvious one to look at was social media. It’s like a monster that you can never feed enough:

  • “I should post on Facebook.”
  • “I need to check Twitter in case someone sent me a DM.”
  • “How can I get more followers?”
  • “I better find some posts to fill my Buffer with.”
  • “Oh my God, I haven’t checked LinkedIn in DAYS.”
  • “I better respond to all those @replies!”

Social media takes only a few minutes per visit, but the overwhelm wasn’t about the amount of time I spent there — it was about the number of times I felt the need to stop what I was doing, check into one of the many social media platforms, respond to messages/add posts/share/etc….and then try to get back on track with my original activity.

Then there’s the matter of being at people’s beck and call in three more formats (outside of email). Not to mention feeling the need to learn about and implement every new social media marketing strategy some Internet guru comes up with. (Facebook ads! Tweet chats! LinkedIn posts! Twitter contests!)

I can’t sleep on planes, so on this lengthy Lufthansa flight, I started reading blog posts and articles from people who had quit social media, and ran across a post on the Forbes blog about how the author discovered that his tweets actually brought very little return in the form of clicks onto his articles.

Hmmm.

I checked analytics.twitter.com and noticed that while many of my tweets were shared, few were actually clicked on. Then I checked analytics.google.com and realized something much more shocking: Of the 15,000+ unique monthly visitors to the Renegade Writer Blog, just 200 of them come from Twitter. That’s about 1.3% of my visitors.

Then I remembered the last tweet chat I did, which was hosted by a large media company. My tweet chat was not only promoted by the company in social media and on their blog, but it was also splashed across a huge electronic sign in Times Square.

To prepare for the chat, I wrote questions for the host to ask me, and planned out my answers in 140-character increments. I dug up helpful posts from my blog that illustrated the points we were chatting about so participants could click to get more info. I promoted the chat in email and on social media. And I took an hour out of my already-short workday to actually do the chat.

I watched my Google Analytics during the chat…and noticed that during the hour-long event, a big THREE people followed the links in my tweets. Three total. It’s not that the host company did anything wrong — they were amazing and I love them. And I think I did a fine job preparing for and promoting the event. But for some reason, potential Renegade Writer readers were not interested in or motivated by the chat.

Okay, so I was pretty convinced that Twitter was not very useful for me, business-wise. But what about Facebook?

While Twitter is more of a marketing platform for me, Facebook is mostly personal. Lately, my experience on Facebook has been people with clearly fake names and photos sending friend requests; me scrolling endlessly through political rants, click-bait posts, and photos of abused animals every time I felt a modicum of boredom or was stuck on a word while writing a newsletter; and feeling anguish every time I received a friend request from a student or reader. (A year or so ago I trimmed my FB friends list to IRL friends, but still felt bad saying no to requests from writing acquaintances and clients.)

The people whose news and photos I really wanted to see, and who were interested in MY news and photos — we are connected by phone, email, or in real life. At the point when I was considering shutting down my account, I hadn’t posted in three weeks, and let me tell you — I was NOT inundated with messages from Facebook friends asking, “Where have you been? We miss your cat photos, brags about your son’s ballet performances, and musings on the writing life!”

Then, the kicker: There’s a woman who annoys the hell out of me on Facebook, and I came to realize that every time I posted a photo or update, I secretly hoped she would see it and be in awe about how great my life was going.

LIFE IS TOO SHORT to spend time and psychic energy making spite-posts on Facebook.

As for LinkedIn, every time I thought to check it — which was once a week or less — I would have to sift through a load of messages from people I don’t know very well asking me to connect them to other people I don’t know very well. (Early on in LinkedIn, I accepted every connection request even if I didn’t know the person. I realize now that’s the wrong way to do it.) Not to mention mass messages from people asking me to buy, read, or do something that I was 100% not interested in. And InMails from PR reps pitching me clients in industries I have never written about in my life.

The upshot: While most other people on the flight from Germany to Chicago snoozed, watched movies, or drank booze — I made the crazy decision to kill my social media accounts.

I deactivated my Facebook account (not too drastic, since you can always re-activate it later). Shut down my Twitter account. And closed out my LinkedIn profile.

The Results So Far

It’s only been a few days since I killed my social media accounts, but I feel much more peaceful knowing there are three fewer things I need to think about. Much more than three, actually, because now I don’t have to worry about tweet chats, direct messages, friend requests, @messages, Buffering posts in advance, scrolling through my feed reader looking for posts to Buffer, social media marketing, learning about social media marketing, and much, much more.

And strangely, it’s a really nice feeling to do, see, or experience something amazing and not immediately think, “I should put this on Facebook.” Experiencing something in real life and not through the lens of a camera — ahhhh. It gives you a sense of quiet confidence, knowing you can do something cool and not need to show it off to the world. It feels…classy. Confident. Peaceful.

What About Marketing?

Most of my business these days is teaching classes; mentoring writers; and writing books, blog posts, and newsletters to help freelance writers succeed. The little writing I do these days for clients such as magazines and blogs…well, I have enough contacts in the industry at this point that they come to me offering gigs.

I’m no longer on the prowl for writing clients, and I’m not looking for a full-time job, so dinging clients on Twitter, networking on FB pages, and updating my LinkedIn profile are not the best forms of marketing for me.

I maintain an email list of about 7,000 writers, and have 15,000 monthly blog readers, and these people — the ones who trust me with their time, who come to me of their own volition seeking help and advice — are my priority. For them (you!) I write newsletters, blog posts, and books, teach classes, and create new products such as meditations and mugs (coming soon!). I simply focus on producing the best, most helpful content I can, and my lovely readers read and share. Creating amazing value for writers — that’s my marketing.

But I know that YOU, my reader, are looking for freelance writing jobs…and every writing guru on the Internet is imploring you to network with editors on Twitter, connect with corporate clients on LinkedIn, comment on magazines’ Facebook pages, and update your accounts daily with the freshest, wittiest posts to keep your lovely face top of mind with whatever potential clients happen to be online at that time.

But here’s the thing: When writers ask me what forms of marketing they should do, I always tell them to focus on the marketing technique they like enough that they’ll do a LOT of it.

For example, when I was starting out as a freelance writer, I really enjoyed writing and sending query letters and sales letters. So I wrote and sent out a ton of these things — like dozens every week. I didn’t do cold calls, or send emailed introductions, or go to networking events. I just sent queries and sales letters, over and over and over. Because I didn’t like those other things, but I liked this.

And it worked. I launched my freelance writing career in July 1997, and within a few months realized I would be earning 50% more than I had at my last office job. Three years in, I was earning $80,000 writing only for magazines and corporate clients — and my ONLY form of marketing was writing and sending queries and sales letters.

Eventually, as social media grew — and marketing gurus decided everyone absolutely, definitely needed to tweet, comment, post, and friend — I ventured onto Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While I did get a few freelance writing jobs from these platforms, the vast majority of my gigs came from good old pitching. It’s one of those Pareto Principle things: 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities.

So in my experience, it’s better to pick ONE form of marketing you love and feel good at, and really work it. Maybe you:

  • Make 50 cold calls per day.
  • E-mail letters of introduction to dozens of prospects every week.
  • Write and send queries until your fingertips bleed.
  • Go to every networking event in your area, speak at as many of them as you can, and invite prospects and colleagues out for coffee every week.
  • Work consistently to build a Twitter presence, hire someone to craft a beautiful background for your profile page, write and post many compelling tweets every day, and connect with prospects via DM and @replies.
  • Really do your LinkedIn profile up right, spring for a Premium account and send InMails to prospects, write amazing posts, and become an expert presence in the Q&A forums.

So maybe your one thing is a social media platform. But maybe it’s not. Whatever the situation, you should NOT feel like you need to be proficient and active in every possible type of marketing in the known universe. That just dilutes your power. If you’re really good at networking and not as good at LinkedIn, you know which will be the more effective marketing tactic for you. Every minute you spend on your LinkedIn profile is a minute you’re not taking an editor out for coffee.

What About Staying Relevant?

I know…we writers fear that if we’re not visible in all the social media, the world will rush right by us and we’ll be seen as old fogeys without a clue.

But think of this: I’ve been on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for years, and I can’t think of a single time this fact gave me more cred with clients and prospects. One of my best friends writes for some big-name magazine and corporate clients and she has never been on ANY kind of social media.

If you think high-quality editors and copywriting clients are trolling around the Internet and judging your lack of a Facebook page, you’re madly overestimating how much time they have. These people barely have time to answer their email, much less wonder if you’re using Facebook effectively.

And consider this: I had 300+ FB friends, 500+ LinkedIn connections, and over 6,000 Twitter followers. I had not been on social media for weeks before I killed my accounts, and not one of these close to 7,000 people noticed.

We’re all busy. When you’re following hundreds of people on social media, it all becomes a blur, and you’re not likely to even notice when someone stops posting unless they’re power posters and you’re a hardcore fan.

We have enough to think and worry about in our freelance writing careers to spend time contemplating whether we’re no longer “relevant” because we’re not posting links to cat videos. Focus on your core values: Your writing skill, your compelling ideas, and your professionalism.

If you have a website, even a simple one, you’re good to go.

Should YOU Quit Social Media?

This is a highly personal decision. Many people get great pleasure from connecting with friends on Facebook, or land a quality freelance writing jobs through Twitter or LinkedIn. If that’s you, great!

Also, if your main complaint is that social media is a time-suck and you’re kinda-sorta addicted to it, you can always block your bête-noir sites with an app like anti-social.cc when you need to focus on a project.

I challenge you to think hard about what social media does for you. Does tweeting 20 times a day really help your writing career? Could your time be better used elsewhere? Do you truly enjoy being on Facebook, or does your blood pressure rise every time you scroll through the posts?

If you’re on the fence, try taking a social media sabbatical. Have your partner change your passwords and hide them away from you. Or try one of the social media-blocking apps.

Don’t announce it…just do it. Block or log off of the offending sites and see how that changes your productivity, your emotions, and your day. And consider: Has anyone noticed you’re gone? If so, are these people you really care to stay in touch with on a daily basis? Are you able to find another way of marketing your writing — one you feel good at, and like to do?

And if you discover you really don’t like social media, and you don’t need it, and you’re more productive in your writing without it — consider pulling the plug for good.

Do your research before taking the final step. You’ll learn, for example, that you can deactivate your Facebook account without actually deleting it, which could be a good intermediary step. And supposedly you can reactivate your Twitter account within 30 days, but I’ve heard that some things, like your favorited tweets, don’t come back.

I hope I’ve planted a seed in your brain that will help you get more out of your writing time, boost your freelance writing career, and create more peace in your life. If you enjoyed this Monday Motivation, please forward it along to your writing friends!

COMMENTS FROM SUBSCRIBERS:

From Dana:

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!!!

This post is exactly what I needed at this stage of my freelance writing career. I am just starting out. My business is in the gestational stage with the birth coming soon. The thought of marketing on social media has been a huge obstacle for me in terms of just-getting-going.

I am happy to report that at 48 years of age I have finally figured out what I really want to do “when I grow up” and am thrilled to focus on getting paid for my writing — something I have always longed to do but have been too afraid to try — until now!

Then, bam! As I am tooling about getting my website ready, finishing a business plan, and brainstorming on marketing ideas and niches, I read all over the place about the importance of social media for marketing purposes. My heart sank into my stomach. My gut aches now as I type just thinking about having to spend time on these platforms. I really do not like social media, huh? And to admit that makes me feel old and out-of-date. And brings angst that I cannot be successful without these.

A year ago I took down my Facebook account because reading through endless posts made me dizzy and wanting to scream at myself for spending time on this or at others for sharing yet another bliss-filled day in their lives. I accepted LinkedIn requests from people I barely knew and never looked back. Great networking!

I realize I will need to venture back into this area at some point but simply knowing that I can focus my efforts on the marketing I enjoy and am good at brings a smile back to my face. And gives me a desire to place butt back in chair, fingers on keys, and get going!!!

As someone just starting out, I had the notion to ignore what my inner wisdom and knowledge about myself and how I operate (having had a different successful small business prior to embarking on this one) simply on the merit and drumbeats of the online gurus/masses.

So thank YOU for nudging me in a direction I know is best for me in this particular here and now.

Time to get this baby kicking!!

Keep up the great work! The Renegade Writer blog and site — what a find!

*****

From Barbara:

I love this, Linda. Experiencing life in real time? What a concept.

*****

From Kristy:

Just want to say thank you so much for your email today. (Why I killed my social media accounts …)

I am a freelance journalist from Kentucky. I now have so many story assignments that I have to pace myself. I haven’t taken any of your classes, but I HAVE gleaned from your emails and I have watched/listened to some of your podcasts. I am appreciative of your enthusiasm and your expertise. I lead a writers group and I routinely refer to your wisdom.

I am going on vacation on Friday and will have the chance to be unplugged (mostly) from social media for over a week. I have made a conscious decision to NOT work on work while I am at the beach. (We will see how the guilt works on that one!)

Anyway, thank you so much. I am a small voice from the Bluegrass, but let this small voice encourage you as well. You are doing good things and I am ever so glad.

*****

From Geniece:

Wow, Linda, this is such an enlightening post. I’m on five social media platforms but need to be as I do social media work for clients. This does serve as a great reminder for me to really focus more on the platform that actually brings me clients which is LinkedIn and I understand LinkedIn well and like networking there.

*****

From Justine:

Linda. This is so insightful! Actually, this morning, I realized I hadn’t logged into my Twitter account in awhile and started to feel “irrelevant” as you say. I quickly looked you up for an RT and found some old accounts of yours! I was thinking, IMPOSSIBLE.

Thanks for sharing. This is definitely something I need to think about!! I want to be a writer and not a slave to social media!

*****

From Steve:

WOW! My daughter, wife and I talked til 2 AM this morning about this very topic!

I told my daughter to stop staying up til 5 AM and tweeting and posting. Cease or at least seriously cut back.

She tells me that, in addition to wanting to be a writer — and she does have clients — she wants to act. I said, “Well, eliminate the tweets, FB, etc and take acting classes. Get rid of the negatives and add a positive.”

*****

From Kaitlin:

Fascinating, Linda! I actually went to look for your Twitter feed a few days ago, because the Pitch Clinic handout that goes over how to sniff out editor email addresses references being able to find yours via your Twitter feed, and I wanted to give it a shot. After a bit of digging, I noticed all your accounts were gone, and I wondered why!

I wish more people would make this decision. I run social media for clients, and I can’t tell you how often I’ve counseled people to give up all but one or two social accounts that they like or know they get engagement from. It’s just not sustainable to try to be on five, six — sometimes ten! — social media sites. And for some people, like you found out, it’s not worth it at all. Business and individuals would be a lot happier if they would stick with what really works for them, rather than trying to fit the mold of what “marketers” or “society at large” says you should do.

Anyway, hope you don’t mind me replying — this was a very inspiring post and congrats to you for pulling the plug for your personal peace! And hoorah for a wonderful vacation!

*****

From Christianna:

Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful post, Linda. As a writer with 15 years of experience and a decent career established, I still worried at night that my lack of a twitter account (not to mention my lack of interest in stalking people through their instagram photos!) was making me less relevant, that I was somehow missing out, even though my career didn’t seem to be lacking because of my lack of social media participation. This post made me feel better about my choice and confirmed things I’d often thought were true — in our busy world, nothing replaces beating the pavement with solid queries and/or choosing the method of marketing where you’ll be most effective.

*****

From Raspal:

Superb!

SO, I did the RIGHT thing!

I already kinda killed my social accounts a couple of months ago.

Well, didn’t delete Twitter and LinkedIn accounts but deleted the FB profile, completely.

BUT I never logged into any of the social accounts – so it’s like I killed them when I took an oath not to use any of them.

You may or may not be aware that in Europe and Asia, people use WhatsApp on their mobiles phones more than they use other social apps. I deleted that one last year after trying it for 2 months and it was eating my time.

I love my work and thought it would be damn near impossible to keep my mind off of email, the blog, the classes I teach, marketing, writing, and so on. But, shockingly, I felt ZERO urge to do any work for the entire two weeks. I didn’t even take notes, write a to-do list, or check email. That was…different.

I also usually can’t live off of e-mail and my computers and Internet, but when I’m doing spiritual service and am with my group, the happiness I get is so so much, that I forget everything else. At times, this can be a week or more. This last August, it was about a month. No internet and no e-mail checking at all. I didn’t have my lappy even. 😀

Without any doubt, like you said, our diseases go away, we don’t know where. So, it’s like freelancing brings into us some diseases?

I hope you get better with your small/big ailments. But, please know one more thing – these things are also internal and at the sub-conscious level. You’re into yoga so I’m sure you’ll at least listen, even if not believe me. There are MANY diseases and ailments which go into the next births because they’re in the subconscious mind, mind is a part of us (us being souls).

If you would like more on the above, do let me know. I’ll be glad to give more info.

Thanks for the interesting post with your experiences and the tour. Seemed like I was with you on the tour, to those countries too. So, thanks a ton. 🙂

BTW, if you wish to know why I stopped using social media, it was a determined decision I made with about 3,000 other youths in a spiritual class, when we were asked whether social media wastes time and we all had raised our hands. 🙂 I’m glad I’m very strong on the decision and won’t revert back or change it. No excuses at all.

Even though you had to research and read about how to stop using social media, you made a super wise decision and God’ll bless you for that too!

Thanks a TON and stay social-media-less forever, like me. I’m writing an article in my institution’s spiritual mag, in Hindi, though, to help my spiritual brethren stop using social media.

*****

From Patricia:

This newsletter of yours struck a chord with me. Social media’s great because, at its core, it helps you connect and reconnect with people you care about. It’s been morphing into more than that, however, and in a very stressful way. People you don’t know, people you just met once (and ever-so-briefly!), batch mates from your kindergarten class whom you don’t even remember and whom you know don’t even care if you don’t even remember… they all request to be Facebook friends. I tried to limit my network to those just nearest and dearest to me. Unfortunately, I failed miserably at that. It’s just hard to reject people, especially when it’s the likes of that co-worker who you see daily and who must be secretly wondering when you’d accept his friend request.

That’s partly why I’ve limited the frequency I check my Facebook feed from once a day to just once a week. It’s a huge time-suck. It also doesn’t make sense to check the posts of all your contacts when you’re not even close with half of them. It results in a disconnect on a platform that’s supposed to connect.

Wow. I should write a blog about the stresses brought about by social media relationships.

Anyway, re: your tip about focusing on that one thing you’re good at, marketing-wise, well… that’s given me food for thought as well. I have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. I also blog twice a week and manage my social media posts thrice a week. It’s a lot of work, and so far it’s not working so well. Most of my Twitter followers just favorite my tweets; they rarely retweet them. Most of my Facebook page followers just like my page because they like me, and not necessarily because they like what I advocate, which is wellness. Needless to say, I rarely get post likes there. It’s on Google Plus where I seem to have the most meaningful engagement, and it’s something that surprises me endlessly. I need to lessen the frequency of my posts elsewhere and just focus on that one marketing strategy and that one media platform that really works for me. I can’t give up social media, but I can work towards limiting my social media time whilst maximizing its benefits.

I’m very happy that you had a great European holiday! Europe is beautiful!

More power to The Renegade Writer!

*****

From K:

Thanks for writing this email. It’s refreshing to hear someone who is as well known online as you are say that social media is a waste of time. I did a lot of marketing on social media a few years ago for a software company and generated a lot of sales leads for them doing that. But since I went out on my own doing marketing consulting and freelance copywriting, I’ve been doing social media and seriously wondering if it is a waste of my time, as even though I have solely focused my content on marketing-related topics to attract VPs and directors of marketing (my main target audience), I appear to have a lot of followers who definitely aren’t my target audience. But I suppose that’s because everyone wants good info about marketing. However, the one exception is having a LinkedIn profile, which has been invaluable to me because I’ve already gotten two clients that way.

In addition, I have been wondering how realistic freelance copywriting is. I know there is plenty of work out there. But I do seem to be hearing a lot of stories about people who tried to make a go of freelance copywriting and failed. And since so much of what is written about freelance writing (not yours, but a lot of other content) is written in such a hype way (i.e., make a million dollars writing from home in your bare feet, and get rich working only one to two hours a day while you sit back and royalty checks roll in), it seems too good to be true/not believable.

But I’m still going to pursue it, because I do believe, being a marketer myself and working in companies where the marketing departments have been short on staff, that there is plenty of work out there. The key is identifying which companies you want to work with, finding out if they even work with freelancers (I’ve worked at some that do and some that don’t) and whether they meet your ideal client criteria (e.g., will pay you what you are worth, have ongoing work/projects, are easy to work with, etc.), and then proactively going after them. To me, the difference between those who succeed and those who fail in this business comes down to those who are willing to be a true business owner by working hard and wearing multiple hats at one time (e.g., the writing hat, the new business development hat, and the marketing hat) and those who aren’t. Those three things are the only true/real recipe that I’ve found for success anyway.

*****

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  • Ronn Jerard

    Linda, I am so grateful for this post. My brain has been exploding trying to follow the advice of so many marketers; most of whom insist that being on social media is essential to building a successful business and generating clients who need writers. The points you made as so sensible that I feel a weight has been lifted from me.

    The important take-away for me is: “When writers ask me what forms of marketing they should do, I always tell them to focus on the marketing technique they like enough that they’ll do a LOT of it”; and “it’s better to pick ONE form of marketing you love and feel good at, and really work it. Wow…so simple.

    Your counsel is always thought provoking and helpful. I will be reevaluating your words in the expectation that I can free up time to do more of what feels right and produces more results. Thanks, again, and I look forward to more wisdom from you.

  • What a relief! I have been stressing myself trying to keep up with social media while wondering if it was really accomplishing anything. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t believe it was worth the time and effort. It is reassuring to hear a successful writer – actually many judging by the comments above – express the same misgivings. Thank you!

  • Great post Linda and so much truth in what you are saying! Sometimes I feel like I am running around doing all this stuff (which brings on stress) and when I actually consider the return, it is very small. I personally am all about work/life balance as I think rest and play actually make me a better writer. And social media is such a (for lack of a better word-is this even a word?) time-suck. I need that time to recharge and when I take it, many ideas for writing actually come to mind. So go you and I think I just might follow in your footsteps!

  • Cynthia Clark

    Well, I’m a day (or 2) late, but “ditto” to ALL the previous comments! Although most of my social media is, well… social, you’re spot on about the addiction and “need” to check in. Thanks for the frank, insightful, and timely Monday motivation, meditation, musing.

  • A terrific post that comes at a time when I am starting to feel the waters lapping at my chin. I can still breathe, but am worried I will soon have to stand on my toes to keep up, and then lose my footing completely.
    I think the solution for me is a strict regulation, narrowing focus, limiting the number of times I interact. Most of all I need to rescript my attitude to social media. It is a tool. It is not a swamp I must wade into digging for nuggets of interaction that rarely, if ever, come. I think it will be a lot better for my writing to focus on nurturing a vibrant social reality rather than on social media, which is mostly just reality’s gaunt, vampiric shadow.
    Thank you for catalyzing a timely rethink.

  • Hi,

    Great stuff. I have been freelancing for some time now but never actually marketed myself on social media. I found writing a post instead of checking twitter, fb or linkedin more satisfying. And it feels great that someone else much more experienced than me says I am NOT wrong!!!

    Thanks for boosting my confidence. I am a new subscriber and have many questions, but I guess this is not the forum for that.

  • Milena

    This is such a great post at exactly the right time! Like all millenials, I have a Tumblr account and an Instagram account. I use those to vent, have a bit of fun and connect to my international friends. I also have a Twitter account in Serbian I use to keep up with the news, and I was just thinking how it would be such a bother to start anew in English, build a whole new account, think of funny and relevant things to say, get new followers, rub shoulders with editors… Why can’t I just be a writer without a Twitter?

    I love my social media. But I would hate it if it became my job. I love writing, love commenting on others’ blogs, love writing emails, love participating in forums and groups… This is the kind of marketing I can do until the cows come home.

  • Megan Rooney

    Great post, Linda. Thank you for this and all you do. One thing, though, and here’s my beef: part of your reasoning for disliking FB was the “pictures of abused animals.” As someone who is involved with and passionate about animal rescue efforts, this bothers me, and I wanted to set the record straight. There are so many abused and dumped animals out there, every day. In fact there is one named Remy in my neck of the woods now that everyone is pulling for. He was forced into a fighting situation and left for dead on the side of the road. This is reality, unfortunately. But the other reality is this: there are people out there, like me, who care a great deal and will go to great lengths to help these innocent, defenseless animals. Social media is an amazing platform for us. We can get the word out for prayers, help with vet bills, transportation, and/or volunteer and foster needs like never before. If people don’t want to help, then they can go the “ignorance is bliss” and “out of sight, out of mind” route and unfollow the folks whose posts they don’t want to see. You can curate your feed that way. So there’s my two cents on that bit, and I hope it’s worth more than that. I’m sure you didn’t mean any harm by what you said, but I still felt the need to bring a little bit more consciousness to it. Thanks again for all you do, I love your blog, and you are a true inspiration.

    • Thanks, Megan! Actually, I’m one of those who is very involved in animal rescue…I’m the founder of creativepaw.org (which is now run by someone else, but when I left I had built up a database of 1,000 volunteers…and I JUST noticed the site is down and now it’s just a LinkedIN group: boo); my husband and I used to work at feral cat spay/neuter clinics (and would do it again if we could find one here that needs us!); and the last cat we rescued from the shelter came from a hoarding situation and had to have all of his teeth removed, which we did at our expense. (We always end up adopting old and sick cats, much to the chagrin of my wallet. 🙂 However, I just cannot stand to see photos of hurt or abused animals (or children). So while I agree that social media is a great platform for getting people to care about this issue, all it does to ME is make me want to turn off my laptop.

      Thanks so much for reading, and I’m glad you like the blog! And I appreciate your comments…more people need to be aware of snimal abuse.

      • Megan Rooney

        That’s amazing, Linda. I’m so happy for the work that you do. I completely understand, and agree that for sensitive and caring folks such as ourselves it can cause compassion fatigue. Take care <3

        • “Compassion fatigue” is a good term! The other day our exchange student’s friend started telling me a horrible story about how her cousins abused a kitten and I had to just shut her right up.

  • Kym Kettler-Paddock

    I am slowly entering the freelance writing world, and all of the contacts that have lead to interviews and work have come from networking. I have a website with writing samples and a LinkedIn profile. FB is strictly personal (and useful to me as I live overseas), and Twitter gets me nowhere. In fact, writers on Twitter follow each other and then just program marketing tweets about their books to appear over and over and over. Good to hear that marketing on social media is not an absolute must. Thank you!

  • I agree about the Facebook problem.. After years of being on there, I realized one day just how much time I spent wasting away on this thing that actually had me bound. I couldn’t start my day without seeing what everyone was up to or into.
    But most of all I saw so much hypocrisy, people saying things that I knew they didn’t mean, so with much thought and help from the good Lord, I deactivated my account. The only reason that I haven’t totally deleted it is because of wanting to save all my pics. ( anyone know how I can do this?
    And if you don’t think it’s addicting, let me tell you that it is, and you are starting to hear more about it and it’s effects..
    Then I got the email from AWAI, about The six figure program and I am so happy that I opened that email. It has changed my whole perspective of the way I viewed my life and what I wanted to do with it.
    It gave me a way of expressing myself thru words, and make money doing it.. WOW.. I will never be able to say just how grateful that I am for this opportunity, that I would have never found,if not giving up Face Book..

    • Donna, I know there is a way to download and save all your FB photos and posts! Google it…that’s how I found the info, though I haven’t done it yet.

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your stress returning as you returned home, and I’m glad you’ve taken action to reduce it.

    I learned so much in this post, but two things are sticking in my mind: First, I realize I use social media to feel less lonely during the day as I write at home and my family heads to school and work. But…writers’ forums or classes can fill that void, as your Pitch Clinic class has helped me realize this past month. I’ve spent so much time reading others’ posts in the class and connecting with some students in a small group we formed. I’ve barely missed my usual social media. I’ve signed for the Freelance Writers Den, so I’m all set for when Pitch Clinic ends.

    The second thing that is really sticking with me: You’re going to offer mugs soon! Mugs! I’m a crazy fan of mugs and can’t wait to see them.

  • I read everything Linda writes, and I listen when she talks at the WRITENOW Conference in Raleigh, NC. My take on social media is that I feel, as a romance author, I MUST use it to get my name and my books noticed. Someone needs to hear your name or book title at least 7 times before they recognize it and act on it. I limit my tweets and FB posts. What you see is me ‘talking’ too.

    • Thanks for your take, Nancy! How do you limit your tweets and FB posts? We would love insights on how to make social media work for a writer/author *without* going nuts. Then you get the best of both worlds!

  • Such a relevant post, Linda. Thank you for sharing. I too am in the beginning stages of my freelance writing career but also I’m producing/hosting my own radio show. It’s a constant balance how much time to devote to both of these equally demanding careers especially when my workday ends each day at 2:30 pm when my young son gets off the school bus. To add staying current/present on social media makes my head ache and nerves stress to the ninth degree. So, imagine my relief reading your post. Ahhhh…a big, mighty exhale. A weight has been lifted off my entire body because now I can truly concentrate on what I love doing instead of worrying about what I’m not doing.
    Though I will remain “active” on social media platforms; I will not stress about how much time I’m giving to them or how I will grow followers or how my posts will be eye-opening and profound. I will instead re-read your post every time I get that feeling — that guilt that I’m not putting in the social media work — exhale loudly again and carry on with how my voice can be the most relevant part of me after all.

  • That’s pretty eye-opening. People are so obsessed with social media these days, and they need to know that they can totally live a normal, but freer, life without it!

    Thanks for all you do for freelancers. I actually just discovered the site, but I’m looking forward to gaining some really helpful info from it, as I already have just from reading this post.

    Andria
    http://www.everyday-writing.com

  • Couldn’t agree more. In fact, as someone who actually loves social media and finds it useful for my business, I found early on you only need to target 1-2 platforms. Forget about being all things to all people, is what I came to. I know how little Twitter converts, too! But I do still find it serves me as a networking and marketing platform and potential clients in my niche want to see I have some followers there.

    LinkedIn is also where I’ ve received a lot of inbound nibbles, and I don’t need take much action there– maybe once a week. But in the spirit of this article– we don’t need time suckers to drain us, oh heck yes 🙂

  • I think Dana summed it up beautifully because I’m in the same boat only it’s 57 for me. I never started tweeting, probably never will and keep FB only for personal reasons, not business. With a full time job and trying to write, social media is a time suck.
    Now, I wish someone would put some perspective on SEO. That one stresses me out more than social media.

  • I’ve been freelancing in earnest for the past several years, and the whole social media thing has been an angst-ridden component from the start. This post validated my feelings about my whine “but do I haaaaaave to?” I’ve fumbled around LinkedIn but don’t keep up with it and have decided to kill that less-than darling. I’ve never tweeted so I won’t miss it. I’ve always kept Facebook relegated as an amusement and not a platform, so that keeps the pressure off and I can just enjoy it as a way to keep in touch with friends and family.

    I also appreciated the permission to market in whatever way feels good – which for me, are LOIs and queries. I have an all-or-nothing mindset which, at times, leaves me catatonic. I have to do it ALLLLLL!!! Well, no, I really don’t. What’s the point in doing it if it isn’t fun?

    Thanks, Linda!!

  • When I first saw this post I thought that it couldn’t possibly apply to me because I’m just starting out as a freelancer and there is NO way that I can kill all my social media accounts. But, wow, everything you said was completely true! I spend so much time getting both my blog and my website looking/feeling good, and then try to stay active on all these platforms, most of which aren’t netting me ANYTHING!

    I feel like I spend all day trying to “network”, but I’m getting nowhere with freelancing. I have only made a handful of meaningful connections. I’m so frustrated all the time, and constantly beating myself up about the fact that I’m not using Google+ or Instagram, but the truth is, I don’t want to get good at those; I don’t want to spend even more time on all these platforms that generally feel like a waste of my time.

    When I look at my analytics, I have the same feelings you did – Facebook and LinkedIn are the only two places I have any luck. Twitter is “fun” but it’s just a time suck, nothing more. I felt like this was all just a necessary evil because experts are constantly telling you that no one (agents, editors, publishers) won’t take you seriously as a writer without this big platform.

    I feel so much better now. You’ve motivated me to spend more time on queries and pitches, and to try to get really good at that instead of tweets!

    I’m so glad that you made the mind/body connection to your stress as well. It’s so critical for all of us. I need to keep this in mind. And kudos to you for the 30 hour work week! I’m impressed 🙂

  • E

    I really think it’s important for people to think about WHY they’re using a platform and make sure their reasons match with what they’re trying to achieve. When people join and/or use these platforms without having put in some thought and also establishing some boundaries on their own behavior, trouble can result.

    I deleted my personal Facebook account a couple of years ago now, and I really do not miss it at all. There are a couple of things about it I miss, primarily easy photo sharing with friends who live far away, but the ones I truly want to remain connected to just email me photos.

    I use Twitter and LinkedIn for my freelance writing business, but I focus much more on LinkedIn. I have had clients find me there, and I’ve found clients there, too. I also think LinkedIn helps show you’re a legitimate freelance writer to people you’re trying to interview. I include a link to my LI profile in my email signature, so if I contact someone via email about an interview, they can click on that (which they may be more comfortable doing than clicking on an unfamiliar website) and see not just my profile but also that I’m connected to other writers, to editors, etc. I spend very little time posting to LI, though. I would say it amounts to 15 minutes a week I’m on there. So for me, the return on investment is there. For a lot of other writers, though, the ROI may not exist for LI at all. It all depends on your business model and strategy.

    I think the big danger is joining platforms and getting wrapped up in them simply because other people are doing so.

  • Actually, I do prefer writing query letters. I will think hard about this, but I am leaning your way. I sold my book to a publisher in NYC, received an advance, and thought my FB, Twitter, and Linkedin connections would be as excited as I am and rush out and buy it. It will be reissued next month. I am rethinking this.

  • 23.

    (You asked how old I thought you looked in the picture.)

    Linda, your article has jolted a thunderous brainstorm might not make me look younger, but it surely will attract new design clients.

    I’ll post another comment later about my brainstorm. Right now I have to jot some notes before ADD interrupts the downpour.

    I guess closing the social media spigot starts the fountain of youth flowing. But more important, it allows swimming — not drowning — in more familiar and enjoyable waters.

    I can’t thank you enough for this article. Or maybe I can, as a gift of professional graphic design for your new mugs. Just ask.

    • Email me…you get a free e-book for thinking (or at least pretending you think) I’m half my age!

      Dying to know your brainstorm…

      I already had a designer create the mug designs for me, but thanks for the offer!

  • Cheryl

    Perhaps people did notice that you were missing, but with the accounts closed, couldn’t shoot you a message to ask. And by the time they were finished in Twitter or LinkedIn, had forgotten to look around for your email…

  • LOL, Cheryl! I don’t think so, as I was off social media for three weeks before I closed down my account less than a week ago. But if I had just gone from posting to suddenly shutting down the accounts, I could see that being the case!

  • Enjoyed your article, and dare I say, rant about social media. I concur that SM can suck way to much time and energy, which as you relate, can be better directed to other priorities and prospects that will be better at bringing in the bacon.

    Now all I have to do is sharpen and hone my skills at query letters, something that I have let slide of late!

    Cheers,
    Frederic in Montréal

  • Hi Linda, excellent post! I gave up FB about five years ago and never looked back. I’m pretty anti-social media and even though I have a LinkedIn account it’s more of a placeholder for clips, not something I regularly check. I’m trying desperately to raise my two boys with the face-to-face social intelligence they need like shaking hands upon introduction and looking people in the eye when they speak. We talk regularly about the narcissistic attributes of social media and how you can’t trust someone’s values and integrity from an online account. My husband died two years ago from a brain tumor and we are acutely aware of how precious our time really is. None of us feel compelled to spend that time on any social media accounts. It truly is a waste. Bravo to you for doing what’s best for you and your family even though it goes against the perceived cultural norm.

  • I can’t say that I’m about to shut down my social media accounts any time soon (perhaps due to the fact that I’m part of the millennial generation?) but this was an important reminder of the fact that some things aren’t as rewarding as others. While it’s easy to spend hours on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites I don’t want to spend massive amounts of time on sites that won’t compensate me for those hours.

  • Nancy

    Like so many others, all I can say is “thank you.” and “Thank you again.” Like you, I decided to only focus on one or two social media options…and FB is not one of them. Hold fast to your decision.

    Nancy

  • This line in your list of things you used to do on social media struck me: “scrolling through my feed reader looking for posts to Buffer…”

    I’ve never understood the impulse to *look for* things to share with your audience. All I need to do is read the normal amount of articles and blog posts that I would regularly read, and Buffer the ones that stand out to me, and my queue is never empty. I share things with the people who follow me on FB and Twitter because I read a lot of awesome stuff that I think it’s important for people to know, often by people who also have FB and Twitter. Being able to not only say, “Hey this story is awesome!” to my followers and friends, and tag the person who wrote it at the same time just feels so great!

    I can admit that FB and I have a bit of a problem, but gathering in a writer’s group there has also landed me three new regular writing clients in the past month, so I keep my profile active and try to manage my time. Twitter as well has been a wealth of information for me and it landed me my first ever regular journalism job. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine being at a place in my career where I wouldn’t still be interested in that kind of professional peer networking.

  • Jan

    I closed my Facebook page for my business a year ago. Guess what? The sky didn’t fall and business actually starting booming. I’ve done better for it. The sales conversion on Facebook was zero.

    I have found that Twitter does drives traffic to my blog. So with over 13k followers built up over 4 years, I keep it open. My blog posts are posted automatically to Twitter from my blog, so I don’t even have to log in to Twitter to post. I go in and do some thank-you’s and I am selective about followbacks. Same with Linkedin. My time is very limited on these two platforms, but I do get business from them.

    I am now expanding my business and will not expand social media around it. Time is money.

    I often get requests to “let’s share likes on Facebook!”. I laugh to myself and quickly move on. Facebook is not a writer’s platform nor is it a business platform. I think people are getting trapped into the numbers game – they think number of Likes = number of customers. It’s an illusion and a foolish mistake for business owners.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • I am not in love (or even liking) most social media sites, but I feel they have been working well for me. Not for comfort or fun, but good utility?

    I have quite a few rules about them, some social, some business, some psychological. For example, I disable all notifications about “slight interactions” such as likes, and try not to pay any attention to them, because there are psychological dangers in those. On the other hand, I use Facebook for easy quick connections to individual people who do spend time there – it has decent tools for multiple levels of interaction, from sending a message to video chat. Twitter is just wonderful for organizing open conversations at conferences and such, or for discovering discussion topics among niche groups of people. It’s also great for tracking big events like revolutions or natural disasters – I’ve been using it for that. Much better than news sites. Pinterest is a good visual organization tool, and I see people make neat collections that incorporate my math stuff; they often would take a large portion of a collection we keep there. So, all in all, a good curation tool. I am in several working groups on Google Plus, which is convenient for meetings and ongoing deeper discussions, and so is Yammer and Skype.

    All in all, it’s like a toolkit.

  • Sarah

    Thanks so much for this insightful post, Linda. I wasn’t familiar with your work before this, but I think you have a new fan. 🙂 As a newbie on the freelance scene, I’ve been finding it hard to ignore the people who try to convince us that the path to success starts and ends with social media. I enjoy being a casual social media user, but a lifetime of being glued to things like FB and Twitter has no appeal. I’m also leery of putting so much weight on something that’s ultimately beyond my control — I don’t want to pump a lot of time and energy into something that can become useless if a platform decides to implement even a minor change. It’s refreshing to hear someone so confidently and openly say “thank you very much, but I’m going it on my own”!

  • Writing this when I should be asleep – but yes, I’m actually up going through email subscriptions and catching up to see what I can post on Twitter. And you’re right. It’s gotten me 1 client in the last 3 years. 1 LOL I have gotten 1 client on LinkedIn and my only recurring client was from a cold pitch.

    The only reason I still use Facebook is because my Mom has to know what’s going on with me haha. Plus, I’m in a lot of groups, some of which are actually really useful.

    But as someone who loves social media, it can be overwhelming. I simply refuse to add anything else other than FB, LinkedIn and Twitter.

    Glad you had a great trip!

  • Diane

    Really interesting post (just THREE people? That’s incredible) and I think what it comes down to really is not so much about social media but about remembering to do what works and what we enjoy, in general. I genuinely enjoy Twitter most of the time and find a LOT of my case studies through it these days. I like FB less but have found work through it, so keep checking in. 🙂

  • I love this! FINALLY someone brave enough to say “enough!”
    Thank you so much. My marketing preferences are queries, so that is what I will focus on…without guilt! Great post…
    ~Jennifer

  • My goodness, Linda! Now that you’ve quit social media, how can I reach out to tell you that I think this is a fantastic post?

    LOL

    At times I struggle and wonder what the point is of maintaining a presence on social media. I certainly have a love-hate relationship with it. Thank you for writing this!

    • Claire, sorry for the delay! I’m so glad you liked that post. I’ve now been off social media for around two months…and don’t miss it AT ALL. The only issue is when you want to sign up for something (like a review site I tried to register for) and you HAVE to have a social media account to be accepted.