02 April 2012

Spring Cleaning Your Online Presence

by Carrie Bailey

Sponges? Check. Mop? Check. Forty types of cleaners for every type of surface with 72 different fragrances and ingredients, all of which work no better than a bottle vinegar, but make you feel like a professional, because you know which ones combine to create mustard gas? Check.

Now that the house is clean or this yearly ritual has been firmly marked on your to-do-possibly-next-week list, what about your online presence? If you've been writing for more than a few months, you've probably used social media, opened accounts and posted work, blogged and left your mark anywhere someone else would allow. That's all part of self-promotion when you're pursuing the life of a writer, but what about those broken blog links... that outdated forum profile... the substandard version of that one publication you let that guy post on that one site what-was-it-called?

It's time to clean up your online image, maintain your online presence and generally engage in a little writerly spring cleaning. And to get motivated, here's some ideas:

1. Close unused accounts online 

When I first started writing, I tried every online community that came up in a Google search. I met wonderful writers and forged new friendships everywhere. Unfortunately, the profiles on these old accounts no longer reflect where I am in my career. One example is AuthorNation.com where I had declared that "I'm writing a children's book, writing odes, and I manage a literary blog" and I haven't visited or posted for over two years.

Your online presence should be part of a clear message to readers that communicates what you offer them. Outdated profiles undermine and confuse that message. Of course, it's up to you how many profiles and sites you feel you can maintain, but aim for consistency and delete old accounts that don't meet your objective.

2. Update your image

We age. We're mortal. No matter how much more attractive you look in that 10 year old photo, people need to be able to recognize you from it. For many, a two year old photo may be outdated, for others, like one of my professors who confessed to the age of his photo for a course I was taking this year, a 10 year old photo may look as though it were taken yesterday. Get a second opinion on the matter.

My own Twitter image is a Halloween picture of myself heavily made-up as a zombie, but at the time, I liked it and I didn't expect to be meeting people who saw it. I was living dead wrong and without heaps of oily make-up caked upon my gorgeousness, I'm not sure they knew what to think.

3. General repairs

I've got broken links on my blog. I've got blog posts I wish hadn't happened. I've got work to do.

Once I've cleaned up my online presence, I'm going to tackle my desktop files and image folders and novel draft folders and paper notes... if I have time.

Carrie Bailey is the co-editor of Peevish Penman currently studying Library Science in New Zealand and not currently writing as often as she would like except for academic works of genius that no one will ever read.


  1. Excellent advice. I've got so many different accounts, that I can't possibly visit them all on a regular basis. I did hear once, though, that having at least a profile at a lot of places is a good idea, since you never know who might come across it and 'click' on the link to one's book or website. Having said that, number two stands out since it's vital to have that info up to date!

  2. Thanks! I read that, too, but I also read that poorly maintained profiles actually detract from all your other efforts to promote yourself, which resonated with me...

  3. Hey Carrie,

    Your post is really timely as I'm doing some of this now, specifically cleaning up my blog posts, deleting obsolete posts and working on cleaning up my links. Big job!

  4. Great! I've done the online spring cleaning of most social media, but I haven't yet sorted through old posts here. I don't know if that is going to be on the list or no...

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