Monday, August 26, 2013

Writing 101: Wallpaper Matters in Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus all allow you to customize your profile. If you haven't yet, you're missing all sorts of marketing opportunities for your books and current projects. It may seem like a small detail, but wallpaper matters in social media...especially if you're trying to get anyone to buy something of yours.


Did You Change Your Profile Wallpapers?

All the experts and how-to guides tell you that to be a successful indie author, you've got to get out there and promote your stuff on social media. So you get yourself an author-specific Twitter profile, a Facebook fan page, maybe even a Google Plus profile. You start gathering followers and you show off your clever side with skillful updates. 

If you're doing it all with a generic wallpaper that was provided to you, then you're not doing yourself any favors. The wallpapers on your social media pages are marketing opportunities, and they're free. It's time for you to start making the most of them. 

From Words to Pictures

Don't say "but I'm a writer, not an artist." I already know how you feel, and so does every other author who's ever tried to design their own promotional website. It's very difficult to create custom wallpapers, particularly if you don't have an artistic eye (or any skill to that end). But I know you can do it...because I've done it, and I'm so inartistic I can hardly gift wrap a box. Start simply, take every step one at a time, and you'll be fine. 

  • Creating an image. You're going to need a program to create your custom wallpaper. Chances are high that you've already got Paint on your computer. If you don't like it or don't have it, try this free image editor. I use it for everything. A blank image sized 2560 x 1600 should do nicely. This is big, but wallpapers are meant to scale to different monitors so it's best to start big.
  • Set the color. I always start with a plain black background, because I'm not very artistic or creative when it comes to images. Pick a color that's neutral enough to inoffensive (fluorescent orange, for example, will annoy potential readers instead of wooing them), and something that will show off your important elements well. 
  • Start stealing. You're not an artist, and no one expects you to be one. So start stealing stuff to put this wallpaper together. Plenty of indies incorporate their book covers into their wallpapers. Great! Grab copies of yours and see if you can find some pleasing way to arrange them. If you paid for/designed the covers, you can absolutely use them in all of your promotional materials (including wallpapers). It's not really stealing; I'm just using a strong word to make a strong point. Please do not actually re-use images that you do not own or do not have permission to use. If you need free images from somewhere, because I strongly suggest that you do not attempt to draw your own from scratch, try Creative Commons.
  • Arrange. Remember that less is more when it comes to designing a wallpaper for your social media pages. You want readers to see the individual elements, and you want them all to work together with the whole. So keep the design simple, and don't forget that only very specific parts of your wallpaper will even be visible.  Most of the stuff in the middle of the image will never be seen. Concentrate on the elements along the left edge and across the top. 
  • Check. Triple-check your custom wallpaper image to make sure it's perfect. Set it to your profile and check it twice before you stop working. 

Save all your wallpapers and the elements you're putting on them. This way, you can tweak the images as needed to suit different websites and profiles. Wallpaper matters in social media. If a potential reader likes yours, it could make the difference in convincing them to buy your books and read your words. Grab them with images, because that's what people are looking at when they're online.

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3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Nice post. If you're fortunate enough to have Photoshop, there are a lot of cool brushes out there that can be used to enhance a background.

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  3. Great point, Sidney. Photoshop is a lot of fun to play with.

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