Advice from Susan Orlean: Using Twitter to Engage with an Audience

Posted By on October 28, 2014

Susan Orlean using Twitter to engage an audience

Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and Rin-Tin-Tin,is also a Social Media Queen with over 279,000 Twitter followers. I interviewed her before her appearance at Seattle Arts and Lectures a while back and decided to pass along this :39 second gem of her wisdom in audio form.

Susan is a proponent of using Twitter beyond self-marketing and glomming after a following. She makes a stellar argument for using Twitter to engage with an audience and connect people to your writing. She advocates using the giant water cooler conversation that is Twitter as a tool for both listening and having conversation with the people who read your work and as a way to get one-on-one feedback. Think instant feed-back loop. (more…)

It’s Not Just Photos and Infographics. Using Text as a Visual to Make Your Content Easy to Read

Posted By on October 21, 2014

Today’s guest post is by Rebecca Hoch, a writer and designer we admire.

F-Shape eye-tracking patter on a web page

Text is a visual element, too. Include it when you’re thinking through how you lay out your webpage for readability. Tip: F-Shape is how our eyes track patterns on a webpage. Red and yellow indicate where the reader’s eye spends the most time. These areas are where your main points need to be.


Photos! Graphs! Blinking GIFs! They sell your web-based content, right? Nope. Text does. However, as writers, it’s easy to forget that text has artistic characteristics. It has form and shape. It has texture, personality and flow. Becoming aware of text’s arty nature and how our brains respond to it can help you make your content easy to read and showcase what you have to say.
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Talking About Suicide at a Memorial: The Power of Openness

Posted By on October 14, 2014

headshot of Ken Booster at suicide memorial

Kenny B. Booster, April 2, 1962 – September 18, 2014

My beloved brother-in-law, Kenny B. Booster, shot himself on September 18.

I decided to talk about him, and suicide itself, at his memorial service because I wanted to share with the crowd of Kenny’s more than 500 friends my own experience of making sense of his inexplicable death. Now, I want to share it with you, in part, because of what happened after I finished speaking.
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How I Used Twitter to Curate the #SameSexMarriage News

Posted By on October 7, 2014

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage made for 60-font headlines and an outpouring of news. Curating Twitter is a great way to find your way through all the coverage.  copyright @Kim Oberg

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage made for 60-font headlines and an outpouring of news. Curating Twitter is a great way to find your way through all the coverage. copyright @Kim Oberg


When a big news story breaks, we now turn to Twitter as a primary news source, tracking stories second by second as they evolve. But how can you find what matters most to you and join meaningful conversations in the information deluge following a major story.

Here are the steps I took to curate my own personal news feed about today’s Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision (or non-decision depending on how you view it).
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How to Use White Space so Your Writing Breathes

Posted By on September 30, 2014

Today’s guest post is by Rebecca Hoch, a writer and designer we admire.

whitespace example in web design from Whole 30 web site

White space is especially effective in web design since readability is a huge issue when squinting at a computer screen. Whole 30 gives the eye rest and ease with its open and airy design.

Blogs, Tweets, Facebook posts… our social media relies on words. In our effort to get our words Out There, we forget that words – like wine – need to breathe. In Designer Speak this breathing room is called white space. Understanding white space and how to use it will not only garner your readers’ interest and attention, but also increase their ability to receive your message. (more…)

Knowing Who Can See Your Tweets Can Help you Find Followers

Posted By on September 23, 2014

understanding who can see your tweets helps you build a following

You don’t marry any old random person; you pursue and get to know them. Same idea applies on Twitter. Photo copyright 2013 Cynthia Hartwig

The beauty of Twitter is that it’s public. Any tweet can, potentially, be seen by anyone else on it when your followers retweet it to their followers, and their followers to theirs, and so on to 271 million people on Twitter. That means people with large followings have a greater chance of their tweets being retweeted. But if you have a small following, how can your tweets reach beyond the dozen or so friends, colleagues, and family members that you begged to follow you?

The first step is learning the different types of tweets and the rules which govern where they appear on Twitter.
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This Is How to Kickstart!

Posted By on September 16, 2014

Prospect (Short Film) from Shep Films on Vimeo.

Caldwell and Earl started their own production company, Shep Films, made industry connections, got their work seen, and successfully raised almost $22,000 to shoot Prospect in their first foray on Kickstarter.

Chris Caldwell and Zeek Earl are pretty average twenty-somethings. They wear black skinny jeans and Adidas Sambas. They listen to Of Monsters and Men. Every once in a while, they’ll say something snarky to prove they are card-carrying members of the Irony Nation. (more…)

Why Retweeting Is As, If Not More, Important than Tweeting

Posted By on September 9, 2014

Retweeting is as if not more important to Twitter success that tooting your own horn through writing clever tweets.   Copyright 2014 @ Cynthia Hartwig

Retweeting is as if not more important to Twitter success that tooting your own horn through writing clever tweets. Copyright 2014 @ Cynthia Hartwig


As a beginner, crafting a 140-character tweet that actually says something is a feat! But it’s just one way to interact on Twitter. Learning how to retweet – re-posting someone else’s tweet — lets you reach people you might not otherwise.

Retweeting eases the hard work of tweeting. Instead of spending hours tweaking uninspired tweets in hopes, fingers-crossed, of attracting followers, you can increase the number of retweets (RTs) you send and get better results. In fact, RTs are actually more important than tweeting–if you do it thoughtfully. (more…)

Social Media Time Management? Five Ways to Avoid Drowning

Posted By on September 2, 2014

social media time management involves not drowning; image shows legs over water in which a goat swims
I like social media but I don’t let it suck my life. I use the following social media time management tips to keep the long (and short) tail from sinking my little ship. (more…)

Twitter is like a TV Show until You Join Conversations You Care About

Posted By on August 26, 2014

You can learn to Twitter by joining the conversation within your community or industry. I found these Ukrainian postage stamps when I set off in search of the beekeeping community on Twitter.


Twitter is overwhelming until you learn how to connect with people and ideas you care about. I turned to Twitter to find a beekeeping community and discovered the Ukrainian one via this image of Ukrainian postage stamps.

Recently I’ve become interested in helping out honeybees. Last night I went looking for conversations about beekeeping on Twitter and discovered the buzz about Julianna Marguiles winning an Emmy for her role in The Good Wife. I’ve watched all five seasons, but there was no way I was going to add my tweet to the fast-moving, hilarious conversation. I’m just not that funny nor do I really want to spend my time dissing Hollywood stars though I admit gawking at the top-ten most badly dressed ones on the red carpet is entertaining.

Friends have told me that such empty-calorie, distracting experiences are the reason that they don’t do Twitter. But there are ways you can hang out instead of being a hanger-on. In fact, Twitter is the best tool I know to help you find and/or join a conversation your field. My search last night uncovered a library of information on beekeeping and a rolodex (I still use one) full of potential beekeeper contacts. To gain comparable knowledge in the past, I would have had to attend an industry conference.
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