Social Media Bliss: Master the Principles of Social Media Without Feeling Like a Marketer

Social Media Bliss

Many authors have a love-hate relationship with social media—and with online marketing. It can be seen as a distraction without a meaningful impact on sales. While I don’t think of social media use as mandatory, you can set up a significant challenge for yourself if you either exclude it from your arsenal of tools, or execute it poorly.

This course focuses on how to take a holistic and strategic approach to social media that’s based on long-term reader growth and sound principles of online marketing. You won’t find gimmicks or short-term approaches here. Rather, my philosophy is that (1) your work—your writing—is always central, and (2) you have to enjoy what you’re doing on social media for it to be sustainable and eventually become a meaningful part of your author platform.

A big challenge for authors is deciding what types of marketing will work for them strategically, and figuring out what will be effective in cutting through the noise without consuming huge amounts of time. Over the course of 12 weeks, our goal will be to answer this question for you, eliminate as much guesswork as possible, and retain your authentic voice regardless of your strategy. Even though this course covers 7 specific social networks, this is not to imply you can or should use them all; rather, it’s to help you better understand which might be a good fit for your goals and personality. Furthermore, an in-depth exploration of the various platforms will help you intuitively understand the next platform that appears on the horizon, and how to tackle it with confidence.

2015 Course Schedule

Regardless of when you register, you’ll have access to all curriculum until April 2016.

Week 1 (Jan. 19): Big-Picture Principles
Week 2 (Jan. 26): Facebook
Week 3 (Feb. 2): Google Plus
Week 4 (Feb. 9): Twitter
Week 5 (Feb. 16): Pinterest & Instagram
Week 6 (Feb. 23): Tumblr
Week 7 (March 2): Goodreads
Week 8 (March 9): Email Newsletters
Week 9 (March 16): Author Websites & Blogs
Week 10 (March 23): Putting It All Together
Week 11 (March 30): Google Analytics & Other Metrics
Week 12 (April 6): Open / Q&A

For each social media channel, we’ll pay special attention to the following:

  • We’ll study the content on each network, and discuss how you can use it to be more creative, to inspire your work, and build stronger relationships with readers as well as influencers.
  • We’ll look at specific case studies of authors who have used social media as a creative tool and as a marketing tool.
  • We’ll look at how marketing campaigns get carried out on a platform-by-platform basis, by authors, publishers, nonprofits, and others.
  • We’ll discuss basic etiquette and principles of use for each network.

To get the most out of this course, I recommend that you have a website in place, with Google Analytics installed, but you can still benefit from this course even if you don’t. You just may not be able to put all of my recommendations to use right away.

Jump to an extended description of each week.

What All Students Receive

  • Weekly one-hour video lectures (either live or recorded), which includes slides, screen shares, mini-tech tutorials, and video chat.
  • A downloadable version of every slide lecture to study and keep for your files.
  • Immediate access to a private course community site where you can interact with other students as well as myself during our 12 weeks together.
  • Opportunities to ask me questions during weekly office hours (text-based chat) at the private community site.
  • Access to all curriculum until April 2016.

Other perks

  • A downloadable template for developing a social media content strategy.
  • A series of worksheets for developing your author platform.
  • My personal recommendations of additional resources and important news items that pertain to the course.


  • You’ll need a broadband internet connection and a webcam to participate in the live video sessions.


Registration is closed. If you’d like to be alerted to new courses when I launch them, sign up for my Electric Speed newsletter.

My Credentials to Teach This Course

I’m the former publisher of Writer’s Digest, and during my tenure I launched and managed its social media accounts. By the time I left in 2010, I had grown the Twitter fan base to over 150,000 followers and the Facebook fan base to over 25,000 followers. I also managed the social media and online marketing for the Virginia Quarterly Review for two years, from 2012–2014.

I’ve been personally active on social media since 2006, starting with an account at Facebook (after briefly dabbling in MySpace). I have 4,500 followers on my personal Facebook profile, nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter, and active accounts on Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, and Goodreads.

Since 2001, I’ve spoken at hundreds of writing conferences and industry events around the world, including BookExpo America, SXSW, Frankfurt Book Fair, the AWP Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, and many others.

My feature articles for writers have appeared in Writer’s Digest magazine, the AWP Notebook, VQR Online, Digital Book World, Publishing Perspectives, IBPA Independent Magazine, The Huffington Post, Writer Unboxed, Scratch magazine, and many other print and online venues.

My essays have been published in collections by the University of Chicago Press, Seal Press, Milkweed Editions, and McPherson & Co.—as well as Writer’s Digest Books, Writer’s Market, Writer’s Market UK, and Australian Writer’s Marketplace.

Currently, I teach digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia, and have also taught online writing and e-media at the University of Cincinnati.

Read more about my background here.

Extended Course Description

Week 1 (Jan. 19): Big-Picture Principles

  • The 6 elements of every author platform
  • Why you have to start with the writing (your work)
  • The fundamentals of developing an online presence
  • The basics of all marketing as well as digital marketing
  • The most important question to start with (which has nothing to do with social media)

Week 2 (Jan. 26): Author Websites and Blogs

  • Understanding the hub-and-spoke model
  • 5 basic elements of every author website
  • Online writing basics and SEO concerns
  • Knowing your call to action
  • The easy changes you can make that have a big impact

Week 3 (Feb. 2): Facebook

  • Personal profile vs. fan page considerations
  • The best practices of every profile or fan page
  • The most annoying things to avoid
  • Advertising: yes or no?

Week 4 (Feb. 9): Google Plus

  • When and why bother, and how the audience differs
  • Features of Google Plus you won’t find on Facebook
  • The ins and outs of Google Hangouts
  • Other Google-related tools and services to know about

Week 5 (Feb. 16): Twitter

  • Learning the language, the etiquette, and the proper tools
  • How to write a proper bio
  • Meeting influencers and building relationships
  • Understanding the varied uses of hashtags
  • What it means to build a following (and how)

Week 6 (Feb. 23): Pinterest & Instagram

  • The demographics and industries that use Pinterest and Instagram
  • What types of authors can benefit from image-driven social media
  • How to create effective visuals, with mini-tutorials on using image editing tools

Week 7 (March 2): Tumblr

  • The demographics and communities popular on Tumblr
  • The mechanics and language of using the site + choosing the right theme
  • How to easily edit a Tumblr theme
  • Popular content strategies used by authors and literary types

Week 8 (March 9): Goodreads

  • The etiquette of Goodreads communities—and how authors should behave there
  • How to be an active author without responding to reviews/readers
  • Popular and effective marketing strategies during book launch time (and beyond)

Week 9 (March 16): Email Newsletters

  • The role and importance of email in your digital marketing strategy
  • How to start an effective email newsletter or email list
  • Mini-tutorial on adding an email newsletter signup to your site or blog
  • The most popular services and how to use them effectively

Week 10 (March 23): Putting It All Together

  • How to decide what social networks to use and how to experiment with them
  • How to integrate your entire online presence—from website to blog to social media to email
  • Developing a long-term content strategy (content strategy templates and calendar examples provided)
  • Long-term branding campaigns versus short-term book launch or sales campaigns

Week 11 (March 30): Google Analytics & Other Metrics

  • How to study your analytics or metrics to understand the impact of your efforts
  • What specific questions to ask about your campaigns, and how to answer them through Google Analytics
  • Brief tutorials on using Google Analytics and other measurement tools affiliated with social media

Week 12 (April 6): Open / Q&A

  • This last week is open for us to address topics that are most important to you. I’ll collect your requests in advance for what you’d like to know that hasn’t yet been covered, and/or we’ll have an open discussion based on your concerns.

If the course doesn’t fulfill your expectations at any time, I’m happy to refund 100% of your registration fee. And don’t hesitate to ask any questions about the course in the comments section below.


  1. I am trying to register but it sends me to a paypal page and then I am stuck…there is no easily discernable way to register for the course

  2. Pingback: My Favorite Digital Tools in 2014 | Jane Friedman

    • Hi Michele — I’ll make the videos available for a full year after the course ends. If you want, you’re also welcome to download the videos to your local computer, meaning you’ll have indefinite access. (The only drawback is that keeping twelve 1-hour video files might take up a lot of space on your computer!)

  3. Pingback: My 5 Philosophies of Social Media | Jane Friedman

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