Running businesses online is a difficult endeavor simply because there are so many inter-related avenues.
I wonder sometimes how any of this can sustain long term without mental or emotional breakdown (or exhaustion).
But I learned a few things over the past year and, most recently, the past few months. Allow me to share my insights. What follows is a lengthy monologue. You have been warned. 😛
Social media experiments
Some of the social media apps offer cross-posting. For instance, WordPress has a feature where you can choose a social media avenue to cross-post your words as soon as you hit publish on your WP post. I chose twitter.
Note: about a week ago I deleted twitter and a bunch of others apps off my phone. I kept the cross-posting active, so my blog posts are still publishing on twitter, I simply don’t see them because I took twitter off my phone for a bit.
Why delete twitter?
Distractions. Too many distractions.
Sometimes social media overwhelm is like an addiction, at least it feels that way to me. I needed a break to fine-tune my path.
Let me illustrate:
Say I write a blog post here on WP and publish it. It posts to twitter automatically (it’s not hard to activate).
To verify that my blog post did in fact publish on twitter, I go to twitter. Once I’m in twitter I have to click a couple of times to get to my feed to see the post by which time I may have caught a headline or image which looked somewhat interesting.
“I’ll just read this quick,” I say to myself and before I know it, I’m deep in the comments of some article.
At that point, while reading twitter comments, I feel like I’ve immersed myself into a cesspool of toxic, unfounded, subjective, ridiculous, stupid, unnecessary opinions which do nothing to educate or entertain my brain. What’s more, I feel like a precious ten, twenty minutes have passed.
“I’ll never get those minutes back,” I say before leaving the cesspool in mourning for time lost forever.
That’s not to say I dislike twitter. By knowing what happens, I now make a targeted point to enter twitter for a specific purpose and a finite amount of time, rather than scrolling myself into oblivion. (There are many good things about twitter, too, but that’s a subjective remark. Social media activity is personal and only you can determine whether or not to stay, or go.)
It happens on other apps too. TikTok, for instance, has to be structured carefully in order to not get sucked in deep. I enjoy the app, despite having been named a criminal a few times; once after going viral, and twice more again recently (more later). But I won’t let that deter me.
I have learned in almost three years of my If Not Now, When journey that fear has no place in online activities. At least not in the kind I do.
There are plenty of things to be fearful of online, but I'm not inexperienced and my sanity is mostly intact.
Use social media at your own discretion and take my words as subjective opinion based on personal experience, not as gospel law.
TikTok has some huge potential in reaching broad audiences. My main account, writerofwordsetc, is a jumble of content similar to my personal blog. Mostly it’s my research project into that app. My video that went viral (half a million views and many, many comments and likes) was banned due to some complaints from German viewers who reported me to the powers at TikTok that spraying wasp nests is illegal. Note, it is in Germany but not in Canada. TikTok accepted the reports as correct without checking their facts and told me to take the video down or they will. You can read about it here.
Aside note: I came across several more wasp nest clips on TikTok that are still live. I also saw some Asian people in the South East Pacific throwing live ducks into a pot of boiling water. This is apparently not criminal and remains live on TikTok.
Another perplexing scenario happened to me a few weeks ago. I created a new handle called Boldly Chic Boutique, which was linked to my Etsy shop (jewelry business) and last week without warning or explanations the account disappeared. In the comments TikTok called me a criminal for violating some guideline but didn’t name the exact violation. I suspect one of the pieces of audio I selected to accompany one of my videos may have been one that required commercial approval. But I don’t know this as fact. I specifically chose (or thought I did) audio that was not listed on their app as commercial property.
Be careful what kind of audio you attach to your videos. Although I thought I took a nonofficial audio (not by original singer), it may have been an original. I can’t remember now, nor can I check it, because they took my entire account down.
Note: same rules apply to audio on YouTube as well. Much like authors, singer/songwriters want to approve whether or not you can use their music, especially in a business venture. I wouldn’t dream of violating that rule, but like I said, there was confusion in the above-mentioned scenario and I was never given a chance to ask questions or figure out what happened.
A third example happened months ago. I created a book TikTok handle (profile) to advertise some of the erotica I published. I know TikTok is very strict about erotic content; you can’t use the word erotic or erotica but you can use the word smut. You can’t post nudity, either.
Here’s the thing: I posted a picture (not video) in a slideshow featuring a woman sitting on a chair wearing skimpy panties, showing some butt cheek. They banned the clip quoting violation about their nudity rules.
I have seen WAAAAAAY more nudity on other TikTok accounts than my erotic woman sitting on a chair in her skimpy underwear. There is, for instance, a fashion designer who uses black tape (kind of like duct tape) on women who are strutting their stuff on the runway. They wear absolutely no clothes, and the tape just barely covers their private parts. They are, essentially, nude. Their backside is completely uncovered and visible when their turn around.
That’s not banned.
Meanwhile, my erotic woman sitting on a chair in panties with her butt cheek partially showing is a violation.
Nothing on TikTok makes sense. Roll with it, or leave the app. I chose to roll with it, and/or talk with them at some point to get clarification so I can rectify and not be deemed an online criminal again.
But instead of canceling and deleting and crying in the corner (pre-If Not Now When action) I note it as a lesson and trek on undeterred toward my next obstacle. We all know there will be plenty more to come.
Alone but not lonely
I’m all alone here in my online adventures. I don’t really have many people to talk with about this, so it’s trial and error. Some people who used to offer suggestions have disappeared or disconnected for reasons I can’t explain which only serves as another obstacle to overcome.
The past summer months have exhausted me professionally all the way down to the bottom of the pit. But my pity party is over now. I did a lot of reflecting and (over)thinking and this has served me well.
Sometimes there are no answers or explanations why people or platforms or apps do what they do. Note down the lesson, educate yourself, and if it still doesn’t make sense, leave it behind.
Trust and rely on yourself above all else. Even the best intentions may or may not work out, so do what you can to trust your instincts, go with your gut, and walk your path. If you make mistakes, take it as lessons which will serve you for future endeavors. They will not break you, even if it feels that way sometimes.
For me, going it on my own is a slow climb up a steep hill. Maybe that’s part of why some people who used to lift me up emotionally disconnected from me; they got impatient (or bored) with me, or, perhaps, they simply have their own mountains to climb.
I know myself; I’m not comfortable speeding through unfamiliar territory. It took me a while to get to the point where I no longer fear discomfort. I’m not crazy about the slow pace, but I (try) to embrace it (albeit in small doses) and keep forging ahead.
Cross-posting on multiple platforms
Cross-posting is both a benefit and a curse (sometimes). It’s a benefit in the sense that you write or create once and publish to multiple platforms simultaneously. The result is bigger reach and potentially bigger results. It’s a curse in the senses that you are now bound to multiple platforms; you have to go check that it posted correctly and engage with the community if there is commentary or feedback. That will suck you into the apps which, sometimes, detours you to check out other profiles, hashtags or handles (or clips, or stupidity that is there to entertain and forget aka waste your time).
I see how some of the cross-posting has affected the online traction on some of my platforms. I picked a few out of many and stayed with them. The voices in my head from my past supporters are still there but quieter. I seriously doubt they spend any energy on my activities – everyone has got their own shit going on. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss them (sometimes).
WordPress blogging community
The tribe here in WP surpasses the other tribes I’ve amassed on other platforms, and does more for my emotional well-being than the other platforms do. Yes, the increase in stats on the other apps is good for online business, but it’s the engaging community here that keeps me going, especially after a hiatus (which I have taken several times in the past year).
Today I brought back TikTok after an absence of several days. It was nice to be free of that app’s addictive qualities, but I wanted to do two things to keep my traction going: read some tarot cards (check out my hashtag #ClaudetteTarot), and post a Tucker the Beagle video where he is Oh So Excited about seeing his favorite grandma.
I cross posted this Tucker video on YouTube: if you watch the 51 seconds, turn the sound on. If you have a sleeping baby nearby, use headphone. 😎
So as I reactivated TikTok in anticipation of my tarot reading today, I noticed they sent me an invitation to join the business community.
Isn't it weird that my business account Boldly Chic Boutique was taken down but my unbranded jumble of unrelated video content is deemed appropriate for a business conversion? #TikTokPerplexities
Here’s another thing: for a link to be active on TikTok, I need a 1000 followers. That’s when I can add my website or Etsy shop as an active link. (At this point I have 334 followers so I’m a long way off from adding an active link to my profile.)
Should I do it? Should I continue experimenting with this no rhyme no reason TikTok thingy?
I might make myself a schedule, stick to it (like I do with the Boldly Chic Boutique Instagram) and give it a try. As long as it doesn’t take away from my strategy I already activated between Etsy and Instagram, I may be able to explore this avenue.
We shall see.
By the way, if you’re a writer and publishing books, do check out the booktok and related hashtags on TikTok. Some of the handles are quite successful. Just don’t post any pictures of butt cheeks in undies. 🙄
Meanwhile, thank you as always for popping by my blog. Don’t forget to click the links above to take you on my social media adventures and check out my updated homepage. I’m constantly evolving and streamlining that part of my website.
See you in the comments.