Day 21: Online Etiquette
Three weeks down and only 49 left on this crazy Journey we've started. After a semi-relaxed weekend of running, photography and working on the Journey, I'm back in full swing. One of the things I wanted to learn to day was how much time was I spending online brand building. It seems like it takes about 2 hours out of my day. This includes updating the website with new articles and resources plus finding new articles and resources. In addition I have to post to FaceBook, Google+ and Twitter. I also scan through the various forums that I am a member of and post comments and participate in discussions as part of building my brand awareness. Now 2 hours may not sound like a lot, but I've also got to find time to do the daily blogs -- both the video and text portions -- get some writing done and take care of all my personal business. And if you're working a production job as I do where you're in an edit bay for 10 hours at a minimum -- plus commute times -- 2 hours is a lot of time to try and find in a day. I may be able to back off that in the future as my brand becomes more established, but right now it is physically exhausting
If you're wondering why I need to do so much now, it basically comes down to online etiquette. If I want people to take me and the website seriously, I have to provide content that screenwriters are interested in seeing and it has to be fresh to keep them coming back. But how do I drive viewers to the website to begin with? Online chat rooms and forums are a good place to find followers. The more people/screenwriters I can get to visit the site, the more established I become and develop greater industry recognition for brand and myelf. But it's not just visiting a forum and saying 'Hey Guys, here I am. Check out my website.' That doesn't go over too well with people already on the forum. They're looking for recognition too, so it's a 'scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' kind of world.
When joining a forum, such as FaceBooks The Inside Pitch or Screenwriters Who Can Really Write, take some time to get to know people. Participate in their discussions, comment on their postings. I've taken the last three weeks to do just that. At about a week-and-a-half, I started posting articles -- from TheScreenwritersJourney.com, of course -- and inviting comment. I've had several great discussions with folks, and I've gotten to know them as they have gotten to know me. Now that I've established a little street cred within the forums, I just posted my logline for Come Ups and invited critique. I actually did 3 variations on the logline and asked which was preferred and why. So far the comments have been very good. But the advice hasn't been limited to just a preferred logline, the other writers have offered tips on improving it or maybe even trying something entirely different. If I had just shown up on the first day and said, "Here's my stuff. What do you think?" I probably wouldn't have had much response other than "Why don't you introduce yourself first?" This has already happened to several new people since I've joined the groups. The other writers are more than willing to help, but they're not here to serve you. They want feedback as well.
Proper etiquette shows that you are a professional and someone worthy of their time. Now, not everybody adheres to the decorum. Some take a very personal vested interest in the group because they may have been one of the first members. They can seem resentful that new people are joining. Apparently they want something more exclusive. Others just want to try and impress with their sweeping knowledge of all things cinema. They will respond to your posts with snarky comments and demean your attempt to learn something 'that you should already know if were a real writer.' Ignore them. Do not engage them. They are in the minority, and you will earn the respect of the other writers by not getting into a FaceBook Fight. And above all else, when you get some advice give the poster a 'like' and always thank everyone who participated in your discussion. You want to keep them coming back for more.
Here are the 3 loglines that I submitted to the online forums:
#1 When three good ol' boys stumble onto a drug deal gone bad, their lives are turned upside down when one of them tries to capitalize on the situation, drawing the wrath of a low-level drug lord and a corrupt sheriff.
#2 Three good ol' boys find themselves on the wrong end of a hunt after one of them makes off with the stash and the cash from a drug deal gone bad, placing all three men in the crosshairs of a low-level drug lord and a corrupt sheriff.
#3 A low-level drug dealer attempts a quick comeup, but when the deal goes south, he must track down the three good ol’ boys who made off with the stash and the cash or face the murderous wrath of a corrupt sheriff.
The third one is not necessarily accurate for the story since it makes Reydeal seem like the hero, but I included it to give people a different perspective and see what might come out of it. Once all the comments are in, I'll let you know how it turned out.