What’s Your Greatest Challenge as a Writer Online?

Recently I met with a writing friend for coffee, and we got to talking about life as a writer online.

Being a writer these days often means also mastering various online forms of communication: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail marketing (and more) AND being a good writer. It’s not to say there weren’t challenges for writers in the pre-Internet era, but the Web brings about a whole new batch of obstacles for aspiring and established writers.

When I first started out online as a writer, I had a vague idea that I needed to start a blog and that I should be tweeting. When I think back to my first few months blogging and tweeting, I have to laugh at myself. Let’s just say it was a learning process, and it still is!

Lately, I’ve been trying to find a good balance between improving my creative writing, meeting lots of writers online, and making my blog a resource that helps other writers. My biggest challenge right now is finding the time to balance all of these and still have a life away from my laptop :) In the past, a few of my biggest challenges as a writer online have been:

  • Figuring out how to use WordPress (.com and .org)
  • Meeting people on Twitter and gaining new followers
  • Finding like-minded blogging friends
  • Getting people to visit my blog
  • Building up the courage to share my writing with my blog readers
  • And many more!

After my coffee date with my writing friend, I started wondering what other writers were struggling with online. Is is getting followers? Learning how to use the technology? Or, like me, is it finding the time to get it all done?

I’d love to hear from others out there: what’s your greatest challenge as a writer online?

Author: Carrie Mumford

Carrie Mumford is a writer and content manager living in Calgary, Alberta. She write short stories and non-fiction articles, and blogs about technology, editing, writing and (of course) books.

  • That’s a great posting! And a very good question …

    I still have trouble finding my “voice”, I’m afraid. In a way, this is because I started my blog semi-official, so I wanted to be able to communicate with agencies, publishers, as well as readers (haha). So, in the very first postings, I use the polite German form (Sie). By now, I guess that lots of people who visit my blog do this because they’ve read a comment of mine on other blogs and want to take a look (yeah!). So I use a more casual tone now, and I’m fine with this.

    I have problems with posting regularly – and definitely, with self-advertising … One of my writing friends uses fb in a very notorious, sometimes annoying way, and I DON’T want my friends to roll their eyes on my fb messages! (Also, I only have about 40 fb-“friends”, but I know most of them personally, wich is important to me.

    I guess what I write is very, very dull. But I am quite concerned about giving not too much away – because whenever you post something about yourself on the internet, it’s like in the meerpeople’s song in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire: “Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back.” So by now I try to tell a bit about myself without giving too much away … A friend of mine “proofreads” everything, and she tells me, yeah, it’s “my voice” in the blogposts, and I shouldn’t worry too much, because it’s fine.

    I, however, am not quite sure that it works. I guess it doesn’t. But I haven’t got a clue what I can do about it – and definitiely, I haven’t got the energy at the moment. :/ *bah*

    Sorry for all this – I’m going to get myself some bread to the whine … ;)

    Have a great sunday!
    Julia :)

    • Hello Julia! Thanks for another fantastic comment. By the way you write comments, I’m sure you must be hitting the mark with your blog posts! I do know what you mean about voice — it can be hard to decide how official and formal to be. I think I waver back and forth on that one.

      I’ve started posting on Saturdays, and that seems to be working. But, when you’re in school, you already have enough deadlines! :) Maybe it will be easier once you finish school. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Julia-
      Have you considered creating a Facebook Page for your website? I didn’t like sharing my blogging activity with my personal friends list, either. By creating a Page, you can then “use Facebook as…” and interact as either yourself or your Page identity (whether your brand or something else… authenticity is big these days though, so I recommend that :) I’ve done this just over the last weeks, but I definitely feel a difference in my self-consciousness factor. More control so I don’t feel like I’m pushing stuff at people that clearly don’t want it.
      Good Luck~Love & Light

  • My greatest challenge is to stick to my writing schedule and not blog/write/social mediate more than I’ve planned. I find myself letting household and personal tasks slide while I get carried away in the writing life. I want to stick to my schedule (write this number of hours per day, research on that day, schedule my Facebook and Twitter posts on the other days, etc.) and then put it aside until the next day. Oftentimes the timer goes off but I keep going, to the detriment of my other responsibilities.

    For your challenge of getting it all done, you might want to check out Todoist or TaskToy, free online task management apps. You can create a check list/schedule for when you want to do all your writing life activities. I use Todoist. Also, Buffer is a great tool for scheduling tweets and FB posts (I’ve written about all these on my blog). Hope this helps!

    • Hi Darla! Thanks for the tips – I’ll have to check those apps out after this. I do use Hootsuite to program my tweets and FB posts, which I assume is similar to Buffer.

      Making sure you write AND work on all of this fun social stuff is sooo tough. I think it’s the thing I had the most trouble with when I first started out online, now that you mention it. And it’s sneaky; I felt like I was getting lots done, but then I realised I had no writing to show for it. Now I write every morning before I do anything else, and that’s seemed to help.

      • Buffer is a very simple tool, but it has this great feature where you can click a button and the site/article is “automagically” added as a tweet or FB status. I checked out Hootsuite, but it was too much for my small-time social media use.

    • Darla~
      Hmmn, it sounds like your body has a different idea than you do about what the Writing Life looks like, lol! Have you looked at the reasons why you think you should stick to one schedule and not another? I’m betting you’ll find some insight in your answers. I’ve had to surrender to the writer’s will more and more lately, as trying to control the situation tends to just make it all the harder to manage.
      Love & Light

      • Hi, Brandi — There’s no one or the other in terms of schedule. I simply allot a certain amount of time for my writing life activities and try to stick to them. It’s mainly because I work full time and only have so many hours per evening to give to writing. I try to stick to the time frame, but, as you say, some times I surrender …!

  • My greatest challenge with writing online is that while the ideas sound so nice from the ether, when I sit down to actually write them down they get all jumbled up. I’ve experimented with all sorts of idea capture tools: pocket notebook, note apps, voice recording apps, and even drawing! More slip away than I am able to keep up with.
    Thanks, Love & Light
    Brandi H

  • Finding time to do what I should be doing online and not getting sucked into the vortex of Facebook! It’s so easy to say, “I’m just going to have a look,” then hours later I’m still there. So, finding some discipline and adhering to a practical schedule are my biggest challenges.

    • I agree Susan! Social media can be a black hole: hours fly by and before you know it, it’s time to cook dinner, do the laundry and get on with life in general and you haven’t written a thing.

  • I guess my biggest challenge as an online writer is getting more eyes to view my blog. It has grown since its early days but it’s hard to keep up with the marketing end of it all. I try not to spam anyone with endless tweets about my blog or endless messages to family and friends about liking my page on facebook. I know how annoying that can be for folks. So I guess figuring out new ways to market it without annoying my small by consistent readers. Oh my other challenge is keeping up with other blogs . Like you, it’s definitely as balancing act that I’m still trying to master.

    • Hi Joyln!

      This is definitely something I think almost all blogging writers struggle with. It’s hard to find a balance between putting effort into your blog, and putting effort into your writing. I don’t have a magic solution myself, except for scheduling specific tasks and time slots in my calendar for myself. Happy writing!

      • This is off topic but for some reason, I couldn’t comment on the actual post. Thank you so much for the grammar resources post. I hate to admit but I’ve always been insecure with my English degree because I am not an expert on grammar. I guess I have some clue since I’ve done pretty well in school but I know there is so much more I can learn in this area. However, my mother, who is excellent with grammar, have been editing less and less of my work so that is a good sign. lol And hopefully with these resources, I’ll be even better at it. Thanks again.

        • Hello Jolyn! I have closed comments on older posts to escape spammers. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you for still making the effort to post! Keeping up with grammar skills is an ongoing struggle for all of us, I think :)

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