We are delighted to offer our FREE three-part webinar series on Digital Presence next month with digital presence educator Sarah Maynard. In preparation for the webinar series, we invited Sarah to chat at the EasternPennPoints virtual café with Laura Parnum, Co-Regional Advisor of Eastern PA SCBWI. Read to the end to find out about our giveaway—a 15-minute digital presence coaching session on Zoom with Sarah!
A Cafe Chat with Digital Presence Educator Sarah Maynard, by Laura Parnum
Laura: Hi, Sarah! Welcome to the EasternPennPoints Café—a virtual café where you can order absolutely anything and everything! I’m having an enormous gooey sticky bun from a farm in Lancaster County and a cup of tea. How about you?
Sarah: That sounds delicious! I’m having a London fog with almond milk and lavender. Mmm, hello fall!
Laura: Speaking of fall, thank you so much for being our faculty presenter for our first fall event, the three-part webinar series on digital presence. We’re really looking forward to it. What led you to become an expert in digital marketing and communications?
Sarah: Thank you for having me! I have always been fascinated by the ways we communicate, and the digital world has opened up pathways and created shorter routes for us all to travel to get to know each other. It’s amazing how we can communicate with people right next to us in our physical space and on the other side of the world at the same time. The way we use these digital tools is still relatively new, and now we all have the opportunity to market ourselves 24/7 through our digital personas, or personal brands. Our digital presence is doing the work of making first impressions and creating connections without us needing to be right there. It’s fascinating to watch how new tools to communicate are being used.
Laura: Are there any new trends that authors and illustrators should be aware of on social media?
Sarah: Trends come and go so quickly that it can be next to impossible to keep up. If you are someone that loves watching and participating in trends, then go for it! But, trends aren’t going to make or break you online. And they can be exhausting to keep up with when it isn’t something that interests you! The best thing to do is create relationships with the people that are following you and others that are talking about things you want to talk about. The more you all engage together, the more you will see your audience grow. Put the social back in social media!
Laura: When an artist or writer is pre-published and querying, is it a good idea to have a website? What should be featured?
Sarah: Your website is your home base on the internet. Unlike social media sites, you have control over what people are looking at on your website. If you post something on your social media profile, you don’t have any control of what someone sees before or after your post on their feed. On your website, you have a captive audience. It is a place that people can come to when they want to know more about you. If social media is meeting at the mall, then your website is inviting someone to your house or place of business. There are only three pages you need to have on your website: 1) Home/Welcome page, 2) About/Bio Page, and 3) How to Contact You. For artists, it is a good idea to have a fourth page to showcase your portfolio as well. All the rest are extras if you want to have them.
Laura: If you go the email newsletter route, what’s a good way to attract subscribers?
Sarah: Newsletters are a great way to offer insider content to your audience. Attracting new subscribers can be tricky, and you have to be willing to try different things. If your audience is teachers and parents, a free worksheet for kids that pertains to what you create in some way is a good place to start. For example, if you write about kids that follow animal tracks to solve a mystery, you could create a maze of different animal tracks, and kids would need to follow the right tracks to get to the end. Or if you create comics about outer space, you could have a step by step on how to draw one of your characters, spaceships, and/or distant planets. There are so many possibilities!
Laura: You’re also a writer and an artist yourself. What kinds of stories and artwork do you create?
Sarah: I love mixing media like cut paper, paint, and ink, but recently I have been playing around more with digital art, and I am really enjoying it! I’ve written picture books, chapter books, and I’m currently working on a few middle grade projects. I always have a few things going at once.
Laura: Are you ready for our lightning round? What’s your . . .
Current read: Beasts of Ruin by Ayana Gray. (I am so excited to read the second in this series!)
Favorite hashtag: #digitalwellbeing. It’s full of reminders and tips to help us find balance between online and unplugged.
Low-key superpower: I have a really strong olfactory sense. I can find all the smells! Sometimes it’s great, other times . . . not so much.
Dream vacation: One day, I would love to go volunteer at an elephant sanctuary somewhere!
Favorite new recipe: I have loved everything I’ve tried from Chocolate Covered Katie, but her breakfast oatmeal cupcakes to go is one I go back to again and again.
Laura: Thanks again for chatting with me today! I look forward to learning so much more in your webinars.
Sarah Maynard is the founder and CEO of THE START EFFECT, a digital presence education company. She helps young people become aware of the impact their online actions have offline and teaches them how to move forward with a positive, valuable, and useful digital footprint. She has worked with kids for almost 20 years, she is a children’s book writer and illustrator, digital marketing communications strategist, and the ARA of SCBWI Pennsylvania: West.
You can find her at www.sarahdmaynard.com and connect on social media @sarahdmaynard on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The Digital Presence webinar series is a three-part series led by digital presence educator Sarah Maynard.
October 3: How to DIY Your Website
October 20: Social Media 101: Dos, Don’ts, and How to Stay Engaged
November 14: Hello Email List, It’s Me Again
Digital Presence coaching sessions are available to add on at a cost of $60.
For more information and to register, go to https://epa.scbwi.org/events/free-webinar-series-digital-presence/
We are giving away one digital presence coaching session to one lucky Eastern PA SCBWI member.
About the coaching session: What will an agent or editor see when they visit your website or social media platform? In this 15-minute talk with Sarah, you will receive personalized guidance for your digital presence. She will give you a first look at your website or a social media platform of your choice and offer actionable steps to improve the user experience. Come with your questions!
Each session will take place on Zoom.
To enter, please comment on this blog post before 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, September 30. We will choose the winner at random from those who comment. Must be a current Eastern PA SCBWI member to be eligible. Please include your full name as it appears in your SCBWI membership. If you’d like to comment on this blog post but not be entered to win (e.g., if you are not an Eastern PA SCBWI member or if you are not interested in the coaching session), simply state that along with your comment. The winner will be announced in the comments section of this blog post, so check back after the deadline to see if you’re our winner! Instructions for participating in the Zoom coaching session will be sent to the winner.
Being an active part of the digital world can feel overwhelming! I just made a website this year, am trying to grow my following on twitter, and I’m trying to figure out the ins and outs of author newsletters. It’s a lot! Thanks for the post and zoom offer!
I look forward to seeing these webinars!
This is such useful information. Thanks for posting these important tips.
Hi Andrea! You are the winner of our digital presence coaching session giveaway! Thanks for entering! We’ll email you with the details.
I’m not eligible to win, but THANK YOU, Laura and Sarah, for this great interview. It’s a perfect webinar preview with some excellent info for getting started. Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway! Sarah’s insights are not to be missed.
Thanks for hosting this Laura! Nice to see you here, Sarah! I know my website has issues *sigh*. Thanks for the zoom offer!
Looks like a great series. Help in this area is always appreciated!