Things I wish I knew when I started writing
Hey friends, as part of my 800 follower celebration I thought I'd put together this little collection of tips in the hope that it helps someone.
I am by no means an expert and am still learning everyday, but I hope this post can maybe help the new writers, writers thinking about starting, or maybe even already established ones with some of the pitfalls of using Tumblr as your platform - and how to overcome them. I’ll take you through a list of the things I wish I’d known before I started writing and tips for boosting your engagement.
Here’s a taster of what I’ll be going through in this post so that you can decide if it’s worth opening up my keep reading:
Formatting your posts
How Tumblr tags work
Taglist forms (and why you should have one)
Adding Masterlist and Taglist links to your bio
Being a responsible voice
Hey you, who’s thinking of posting/writing their first fic -
For those of you who don’t know me, I haven’t had my blog very long (since February of 21) and making the decision to post my writing was singularly the most nerve wracking but rewarding experience of my year. The confidence, the creative outlet, and the friends I’ve gained through doing this is incredible. So hey you - yeah you, the person reading this sat nervously thinking they’re not good enough to write, or no one will like what they produce - I am here to tell you that you are wrong. You will find your circle, you just have to build it and they will come. So please, take this as your sign to join the fold if you aren’t already convinced, and if you do - I hope this post can help you.
Formatting your posts
There is no right or wrong way to format your posts. However including all of the below will help you, firstly - it's easier and more organised for you. Secondly - These can boost your engagement by being easily interactable for the reader.
Catchy title and accompanying image (images will help boost your engagement as they catch people’s eye by separating it from the walls of text that often appear on the dash).
A summary and warning section (if any warnings apply)
A link to your Masterlist. If you are creating multi-part series you’ll also want a previous or next chapter link as applicable.
Separator images (it can be a thin line or an image on a transparent background) that decorates your post to separate the actual content of your work from the formatting. I always have one at the top of the post under all my warnings, title, masterlist links before the actual writing starts. Then a second before my taglist and any author’s notes.
Add a ‘keep reading’ function (more on that later)
An author’s notes/note section where you can talk about additional details or generally just leave a fun note for your readers.
A section to include your taglist members (if you have them - if you’re just starting out you obviously won’t).
How Tumblr tags work
Ah, Tumblr tags - the beast that never gives up. Here are things to know when adding hashtags to your work:
Note: we are not talking about user tags here, just the hashtags for your actual post.
If you are a relatively new blog, or this is your first post (discounting reblogs) then your fic may take a while to show up in the tags. So don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t appear right away.
Only the first 20 tags you input will actually show in the tag searches. Anything additional is basically just for cosmetics.
Only the first 5 tags show up in tracked tags. For example - If I’m tracking/following the tag Din Djarin x reader, and you have tagged this within the first 5 tags under your work, your post might show up on my dash even if I am not following you. So this is really important to remember.
It goes without saying - don’t use unrelated tags to try and get more reblogs, people will just turn their nose up at you...
Taglist forms (and why you should have one!)
As you start to get some interested readers, I cannot stress enough why you should build a taglist form (google forms is so, so easy to do this in, and is a widely accessible platform for your readers). For any already established writers, if you currently do not have a taglist form - please build one, and I promise you your tag engagement will shoot right through the roof.
People on Tumblr are often shy to ask to be added to your tags, so creating a taglist form gives them a disconnected way to request this where they feel safer engaging with you - hence why you will suddenly see an influx of requests compared to what you would with a manual request system.
I am more than happy to help people out with how to use google forms if you are struggling - just reach out to me!
Adding a masterlist/taglist link to your bio
Now I’m not gonna pretend I know what any of this code means, but hey - it works for me.
To add a Masterlist or Taglist link to your bio so that people can see it as soon as they pop on your blog is quite simple (or at least if you don’t try to get caught up in it too much and just follow the instructions).
Note: This has to be done on a PC - it cannot be done on the mobile app.
Open up your blog page and enter the editor.
On the left hand side is your bio space, it will have the header of ‘description’. This is where we’ll be posting our code into.
Post the below code into the description box - with the post link to your masterlist embedded:
<a href="INSERT YOUR MASTERLIST LINK IN HERE">| Masterlist |</a>
For your taglist similarly you post the below code into the description box - with the link to your google form taglist embedded:
<a href="INSERT TAGLIST LINK IN HERE">| Taglist |</a>
Note - you can also edit the titles of both links, where it says Masterlist or Taglist - to whatever you want them to say, this will be what appears on your blog for the reader click on. If you want help doing this or customising it please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help!
So as an example here is what my code looks like:
And here is how it looks on my blog:
Being a responsible voice
Everyone always tells you to write for yourself, and I’m here to tell you the same. Write your weirdest day dreams, even if they are bizarre and canon divergent and don’t fit within timelines - believe me, someone will read them. (I actually have one that’s all of those 3 and it’s my most popular piece of writing!) - but also, be responsible for what you put out into the world.
Reblogging your own work:
Let’s be honest with ourselves and say that notes also matter. The engagement in your work is what will keep you going as a writer whether you like it or not, it’s impossible for it not to be a motivator when writing takes so much time and effort - we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have the reblogs, or likes etc.
All of that being said. Don’t chase engagement consistently - apply the little tricks that will help, but don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t come right away. Oftentimes the notes are reflective of circumstance rather than your talent E.G: what time you posted, who was online at the time, how many other people were posting at that time (it could have gotten buried on a heavy dash or full tag for example), who reblogged it, and so on.
So - don’t be afraid to reblog your own work. The next morning/The day after/ A month after - go for it. Get it recirculating. All it takes is for one blog to pick it up and have their reblog start a cascade of people going ‘ooh this looks tasty’.
Adding readmore’s/keep reading panes:
It is so important to always add a keep reading/readmore function to your pieces of writing, for two reasons:
If your writing contains content not appropriate for minors, they can see the warnings and scroll on without having to be exposed to any smut whilst scrolling the tags.
Secondly, people do not want to scroll through a 4K word fic on their dash in the morning and will likely unfollow you in annoyance if you don’t add a cut.
Doing this on PC is pretty easy (the 3 little dots in the editor will add a cut for you).
If you’re using the mobile app (like I do) you can add a cut by typing the below and hitting enter on your phone keyboard - make sure your keyboard doesn’t auto correct the text to have a space between the words, or it won’t work.
A note on plagiarism and inspiration:
If you are here to take someone else’s work verbatim and repost it in the hope of obtaining notes and quick popularity - please see yourself out. This is morally wrong and lazy and if this is your attitude to writing you do not deserve a platform. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE.
You can be inspired by another author’s work without ripping them off completely, but please reach out to the author first and ask if they mind you writing a little something based on ‘X’ and that you’ll credit their work for the brilliance that it did by inspiring you.
Also if you are bouncing ideas around off other people/friends/mutuals and they've contributed some important ideas that you are going to use, it’s polite etiquette to give them a little shout-out in your posted work and say ‘Hey, thank you so much to X Y and Z for helping me bounce ideas off their beautiful brains’.
So basically - just don’t be a dick, okay? Okay - I’m glad we agree, I knew you would.
Triggers and Topics:
Be aware of what you’re writing about. Ensure that what you’re posting is reflected by accurate warnings and tags if something you have included may be triggering to someone (E.G Blood, emotional abuse, mentions of infertility etc).
If you are thinking of writing about a topic that could be considered heavy, or maybe extremely controversial, I implore you - please reach out to someone you trust privately and ask if they think it is an appropriate piece of writing to post. Anything that falls under these umbrellas’ must be written with a purpose and done respectfully for effect or awareness, not for frivolity.
If there is anything in this post that hasn’t quite made sense that you want more advice on, or any other things you think I’ve missed and should add - please reach out to me so that I can tweak this!
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