social media / tech tips for writers

End of Year Tips: Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?

2015This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like this week.

For most writers I know, life zooms by, filled with research, writing, editing, critique groups, reading, promotions (of our books), people watching (to build characters), and thinking. There are few breaks to update/fix/maintain the tech tools that allow us to pursue our trade.

But, that must happen or they deteriorate and no longer accomplish what we need them to do. Cussing them out does no good. Buying new systems takes a long time and doesn’t fix the problem that the old one wasn’t kept up. If they aren’t taken care of, we are left wondering why our blog isn’t accomplishing what it does for everyone else, why our social media Tweeple don’t generate leads or activity, and why our self-published materials languish. There’s a short list of upkeep items that won’t take long to accomplish. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do these:

  • Update your online profile–your blog profile page, your gravatar, FB, Twitter, professional groups, your PLN. Have you changed your focus? Switched jobs? Adding new publications or items efriends would like to know about? This, btw, should be done once a quarter, but at least at the new year.
  • Clean up your FB and G+ stream–delete pictures and comments you no longer find as funny as when you first posted them or make them private. FB has become a common resource for future employers (be they companies considering you for writing gigs or readers interested in everything you’ve written) to use when researching your background. Make sure the YOU that shows up on FB is really YOU.
  • Check old posts, articles, updates for grammar and spelling. Start with the most-visited articles (under Site Stats) and work your way down (in case you run out of time). You’ll be surprised what you can catch with a fresh eye.
  • Check individual post tags and categories to see if you can whittle down the options while still authentically grouping your writing. Sometimes, you’ll find a category you added at a point in the year which can include many articles written prior to its addition.
  • Check the sidebar for out-of-date and no-longer-relevant widgets and links. Add new pieces that add to the blog’s utility. Move pieces around to give a fresh look. Current thinking is ‘less is more’. Considering putting awards, PLN groups, memberships on separate pages noted in the menu bar.
  • Check your list of ‘pages’. Are they all still relevant? Could some be nested under other pages to save room and/or make them easier to find? While you’re at it, be sure all of these less-visited pages are up to date.
  • Check the appearance of your blog on a smart phone and iPad to see if those venues display properly. If they don’t, consider switching to a responsive theme that auto-adjusts for a variety of digital devices.
  • Check blog in different browsers to see if you should recommend one over the other for best-viewing. For me, FireFox views best.

Follow along with me over the holidays. There are eight items. Let’s do one every other day. I’ll check in with you via @askatechteacher (Twitter). We can keep each other motivated. Let’s start December 26th (I have too much to do for the holiday to start earlier and I bet you’re the same). I’ll Tweet you. You answer.

This is the time of year when lots of experts weigh in on upkeep of your online presence. Here’s Huffington Post’s Simone Collins thoughts, Jenny Yerrick Martin at Careerealism, and one of my favorite go-to sources on tech in your life, LifeHacker.

Do you have any maintenance issues to suggest for the new year? I’d love to hear them.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. 

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29 thoughts on “End of Year Tips: Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?

  1. Oh boy, I am way out of whack on these strategies. I still can’t figure out how to get photos onto my blog. I know where the button is but can’t get anything to transfer.
    Supposedly I will be getting a new computer. Am hoping that with it will come a new brain. The computer’s is guaranteed of course. Mine – who knows?
    Seriously, I need to spend time writing the books. Still, I so appreciate all your assistance with letting me know what I should be doing. Thank, Jacqui.


    • I know you had problems getting images on Today’s Author. Me too–turns out that they’re blocked. Either Rob has to do them or easier, I create the post in WordDreams and then copy the html to TA.

      If it’s not that, I’d love to see the back end of your blog. There are settings to prevent certain contributors (even the Admin) from adding pictures. It might be that.


      • Rob told me about the image posting problem on TA. I’ve long had an effective way of getting images on my TA posts, doing pretty much what you’ve suggested.

        As for my own blog, the problem has to do with me not being able to pull up my own images. There’s a button – I just can’t figure it out. Amazing how something that others manage efficiently simply boggles me. Thank you for your help. If only you sat in the room next to me….


  2. Okay, at least you gave us the cute puppy to take away some of the head spinning. I’m a wreck when it comes to computer skills! I think I’ll send this all to my darling husband–he can do it 🙂


  3. I use the same profile for all of my accounts. The profile I use I have for Gravatar. I’ve thought about adding to that profile using the info. I have a LinkedIn but that would be to long, I think.

    Should I get rid of my awards page? I’ve thought about that too, but still haven’t decided. I’m really not into that award thing anymore.

    As for checking old posts — I keep putting it off. It’s going to be so tedious.


    • I struggled with that very question a few years ago (about removing the Awards page). When I did finally do it, I see very few visits to the page. To me, that means it’s not a big deal to most people, so why waste sidebar space that could be used for more important content.


  4. I have a couple of profiles I need to update straight off, but it’s been difficult to change some things. Will have this for later in the day to start some updates. Thanks, Jacqui. This is a firm yet gentle nudge. 😀


  5. Remember, if you delete pictures out of your WordPress Media file, they disappear from your post and the internet completely – I learned that the hard way!! I wish many would improve their Gravatar profile, I finally find them, but they only have a picture there – no way to get to their site – what good is that? Some people need to realize that the Gravatar profile can bring them new readers.
    Thanks for reminding people about the maintenance, Jacqui.


    • Great points. I learned about the linkage of pictures the hard way too–by an unplanned hotlink that deleted my picture. We should all be aware of what’s hosting our images.

      I love the point about Gravatars. I always try to return visits, but some make it difficult by not linking gravatars to their blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I actually want to update my blog and once I’ve finished with the release stuff I’m doing for Shallow Waters I’m going to be updating my blog. I’ve had the same theme for a couple of years now. This is always a good reminder. Thank you.


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