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Asshole Astrology — Week of 6 July 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Why not read the whole thing and pretend that the advice for all the other signs also applies to you?

Aquarius: Someone will say that you were rude to them. I’m not a betting person but I’d lay money that you weren’t rude at all. You’re a good person, well-intentioned, and mindful of others. Some people just ain’t shit. Someone else will say that you complain too much. They’re probably right but you weren’t put on this planet to be an emotional punchbag for strangers. You’ve got your own shit to deal with. But you are a complainy pants.

Pisces: You like to think of yourself as a minimalist. Let’s put that theory to the test. Can you count the number of possessions you own on one hand? You have too many hands! Do you fly with one bag? You don’t need a bag. You don’t even need a purse or a wallet. Just stuff your credit card and keys up your arse and leave your smartphone at home. Yes. That ought to do it. Only rich assholes are minimalists. The rest of us are just poor.

Aries: How are you today? Translation: “Just say ‘I’m fine thanks. How are you?’ What’s wrong with you? Don’t you understand the rules? We don’t want to hear your life story. We’re just being polite. We get that you think your life is interesting. We just don’t get why you think that your life is of interest to us.” Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but the point still stands. Nobody gives a shit about your problems. So stop telling everyone about them.

Taurus: Divorced, beheaded and died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. Is that the wives of Henry VIII or Edmund Kemper’s dating profile? That’s what you have to decide this week. Ruh-roh. Just kidding but be careful who you date. You say you don’t like shallow people who judge by appearances. Unless, you know, they’re really hot. You’ll be fine. But judge people by the content of their hearts - or the lack of bodies in their freezer - instead of how they look.

Gemini: Stay indoors, avoid social contact and non-essential travel? Admit it, you feel like you’ve been preparing for this your whole life. It doesn’t come easy to everyone. It’s ok to take care of yourself first and foremost. Turn off your phone. You can’t fix stupid. Put your attention someplace more productive. What’s the alternative? Stalk them on social media? Gate-crash their parties? Guerrilla Warfare? Sorry, I’m not helping.

Cancer: Let’s play music together on YouTube! Let’s lip sync to songs! Let’s all pretend to hold hands across the internet! Or you could sit with your thoughts for a bit. Maybe have a nice cup of tea. Maybe write something. I don’t care what you do so long as you shut the fuck up. Act like a jerk and the world will embrace you as an equal. Great minds think alike — as do average ones. Only the good die young — prepare for the long haul.

Leo: I’ve contemplated suicide every day of my life since the age of eleven — my ability to procrastinate knows no bounds. What do you keep putting off until tomorrow that you should really do today? You’re in a bad place right now. Wisconsin? Are you in Wisconsin? Don’t worry. You’re made of awesome. No power in the verse can stop you. You can change your luck through love. You gotta fight for your right to party.

Virgo: Beware the tyranny of nice people. Kind words don’t pay the rent. Jesus never read The Bible. The meek will inherit fuck all unless they get their act together. You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. As sure as eggs is eggs. No yolk. You can’t turn lead into gold but you can turn shit into money. Or, as they say in Yorkshire, “Where there’s muck there’s brass.”

Libra: You worry me sometimes. When you start appreciating porn for the music you know you’re in trouble. It’s time to reach out to other people but be sure to be kind and say what you mean. Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey. People will still understand you and take offence as though you’d spoken your mind in the simplest of terms. Even if you do communicate about as clearly as a rogue AI that has become self-aware and plans to take over the world.

Scorpio: The Law of Attraction is bunk. The universe isn’t an Argos catalogue. You can’t just order what you want. The universe is more like Cthulhu. It’s huge, unfathomable, and trying to kill you for shits and giggles. It’s good to have some irony in your diet. You can’t afford to buy crap. Now more than ever. Cut your expenses to the bone — and if that doesn’t work then amputate. Less is more. More or less.

Sagittarius: A Japanese proverb reads: “The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone.” This brings a Jackie Kennedy quote to mind: “The first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship.” Basically what you need to do this week is play ‘Fuck, Marry, Kill’ with your three faces.

Capricorn: The first step is always make a cup of tea — which isn’t that hard, now really, is it? A cup of tea solves everything. For all your success you feel like a complete failure. Toughen up, cupcake. You’re feeling rather delicate today. Chin up, buttercup. Whatever happens I suspect the solution is to drink more tea. Drink tea. Be kind. Except to your enemies. Destroy your enemies and bury them in the woods. Then drink some more tea.

What does the future have in store for you? Nothing much most probably. Sign up to find out just how little the universe cares about your problems.

Asshole Astrology — July 2020

Here is next month’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Asshole Astrology is now an actual thing — I blame you.

A friend said that Asshole Astrology sounds like an x-rated alternative to reading the tea leaves.

Others have said that it sounds rude, like a sex thing, or some sort of cavity search.

That’s surprisingly apropos — when I write I’m literally pulling it out of my arse.

That said, I hope that you’re sufficiently entertained to pay for this newsletter.

I need to start making enough money to live on soon because ghosts can’t type.

Unless, you know, they’re a ghost writer.

Please send help.

Aquarius: If there’s one thing I hate then there’s probably a bunch of other shit too. My current pet hate is people, including family members, who say things like “Well that’s your opinion” or “I’m just as entitled to my opinion” when confronted with SCIENCE or FACTS. No. Your opinion isn’t just as valid as any other. Your opinion is wrong. This month: What fatuous bullshit are you no longer willing to put up with?

Pisces: Do you need help? Yes I need help. I just thought I’d see if there was any way I could help. Please help. Ok if there’s anything I can do to help just let me know. You can help! So you don’t need any help? That’s great. HELP ME! Does any of that sound familiar? This month: Get good at asking for what you want. People are assholes but don’t like to be seen as assholes. These should not be thought of as separate things.

Aries: Americans arrange to chat with me in the UK but often get the time wrong and assume that means I’m late. As though my timezone should change to suit them. If someone books a time with me in my timezone then they should be on time in my timezone. If they get it wrong that’s their problem, not mine. It’s not my job to fix it for them. This month: What line in the sand will you draw? Stick to your guns.

Taurus: I work incredibly hard but worry I don’t work hard enough. Then I crack a joke about being incredibly lazy and people who don’t know me assume that I’m a jerk. Maybe it’s the other way round. The point is I’m not doing myself any favours by being modest or trying to hide my light under a bushel. This month: Where are you selling yourself short? What could you do or say instead that shows you in a better light?

Gemini: My life feels like a shit version of The Great Escape. I drove my life and career prospects into a ditch and now I’m brokeass poor, at the mercy of others, and being gaslighted by a narcissist arsehole. I need a new job, a new life, to live by myself, and to get away from everyone. I feel like I’m trying to dig my way out with a spoon. This month: What film best represents your life? What are you going to do about it?

Cancer: Every time I see a picture of a dog or cat on the internet I secretly boop its nose. True story. This month: What deep dark secrets do you have? Share them with someone. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. It’s just that some of us have been there a lot more than others. As Hunter S. Thompson said: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they always worked for me.”

Leo: I told a writer friend to finish their shit or pay someone else to do it. I’m available as a motivational speaker by the way. Another writer added: “That’s the best advice you can give a writer. Get to The End.” My friend was amused and hopefully got some writing done. Sometimes I feel like it’s my mission in life to shout supportively at people. This month: What do you need to hear to get you over the hump? Shout it out.

Virgo: People say there’s a plot hole in Terminator 2. The T-1000 shouldn’t be able to time travel because it’s made out of liquid metal and nothing metal can go through. I disagree. It’s a mimetic polyalloy. Just wiggle your eyebrows and say that it’s organic, alive, or able to mimic human flesh. I may be overthinking this. This month: What are you overthinking? What are the simplest solutions to your convoluted problems?

Libra: I just want to write. I travel, take photos and get into adventures but only so I can write about them. I don’t want to work for anyone else. And I don’t want to market my work as though it’s predicated on serving the needs of others. I may die in a ditch but at least I’m honest. This month: What do you really want to do? How can you do it? What are you willing to sacrifice to make that dream a reality?

Scorpio: I hate morning people. And mornings. And people. People talk about ‘the new normal.’ My new normal’s working from midnight to about five or six in the morning. Then sleep for three or four hours. Then I’m awake for the next couple of days without sleep. Then I watch cartoons. Sleep is for the weak. This month: What is your new normal? Adapt life to your art, not the other way round.

Sagittarius: A Twitter friend described herself as a potato masquerading as a human. Does that mean that they’re a… wait for it… carbohydrate based lifeform? Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Ok, I’ll see myself out. You’re a tough crowd. This month: What ridiculous metaphor would you use to describe yourself? What silly analogy best explains your life? People say I want the moon on a stick. Guilty as charged.

Capricorn: People who respond to difficult, challenging, or provocative questions with moral indignation and answers like “How could you ask such a thing?” don’t understand how questions work. Just because you ask something doesn’t mean you approve. I ask about Harry Potter all the time. This month: What questions would you ask if not for fear of reprisal? Expect the same level of candour from others.

Asshole Astrology — Week of 29 June 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Everybody knows that astrologers are basically assholes with too much time on their hands and most horoscope writers are failed writers and barely functioning alcoholics.

I mean that in a good way.

As for you being a horrible person — don’t worry, I’m sure that you’re lovely.

Aquarius: You’re being chased by a swarm of angry bees. Luckily they’re far away so if you keep going they won’t be able to catch up with you. Still, remember to be kind to bees — it’s not their fault that they’re angry. We’ve totally screwed them over. Don’t be a dick about it.

Pisces: Some days you’re the mouse. Other days you’re the cheese. This week you’re mostly a mouse made out of cheese being chased by a great big cat who’s lactose intolerant. Who or what is the cat in this metaphor and what does it want from you? That’s what you need to work out.

Aries: Are you insecure about something? You should be! Here’s the secret truth about something you don’t know but feel insecure about anyway. Followed by 10 completely made up reasons that anyone will read anything so long as it’s a list. Self-help doesn’t help. Help yourself.

Taurus: Want to be a morning person? Every day before you go to bed fling yourself into a tree. You’ll wake up with the birds… WHO HURT YOU?!! Stop trying to be so productive all the time. Maybe have an early night, try to get some sleep, or read a book at bedtime or something.

Gemini: Your heart’s in the right place. In a jar on your desk. Next to the much bigger jar of formaldehyde that contains your twin. Why did you kill your twin? And why did you put it in a jar on your desk. That’s a stupid place to hide a body. This week you bury it in the woods.

Cancer: This week will be your best week in about the last 10 years. Or it won’t. Either way you’re still here. You have everything you need. And, short of a great big neon sign pointing in the direction you need to travel, you know exactly what you need to do. Chin up. Fight on.

Leo: You know that old joke about two people in the jungle who get chased by a lion. One says: “We’ll never be able to outrun a lion.” The other says: “I’m not trying to outrun a lion. I’m just trying to outrun you.” Well that. But you’re the lion. And it’s no laughing matter.

Virgo: It’s all a load of old bollocks, really, isn’t it? This horoscope nonsense. Do you think that if I stopped writing them anyone would notice? There’s so many star signs to make shit up for. I am wasting my life! Talk to strangers. Beware of cats. Your lucky number is seven.

Libra: You ever noticed how Libra sounds a bit like library? That’s because your natural habitat is a library. I made that up but go to a library this week. You’re allowed to drink tea and eat flapjacks there to your heart’s content so long as you don’t get anything on the books.

Scorpio: Shit or get off the pot. Can’t you see that there’s a queue here? Other people desperately need to use the loo. Do your business as intended or accept that you won’t, pull your pants up, and get out of there. Either way remember to wash your hands. You’re not an animal.

Sagittarius: Life is a journey. Time is a truck. You are roadkill. If you don’t want to be roadkill then get on the bus. It’s a long journey so you might want to go to the toilet before you set off. And, remember, it’s much easier to ride the bus in the direction that it’s going.

Capricorn: This week you have imposter syndrome. That’s good because you’re a total fraud. Nobody loves you. Everybody knows. I’m just kidding. Stop beating yourself up about nothing you sack of shit. Like I said I’m just joking. Just believe in yourself. You’ve totally got this.

There. I’m a horoscope writer now. Give me all of your money.

Asshole Astrology is now an actual thing

Horoscopes for Horrible People

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Asshole Astrology is now an actual thing. I blame you.

I figured some of you wouldn’t want it to become a regular part of Chapter 23 so I set it up as a separate thing instead.

That way those of you who want it can come get it. And the rest can do nothing and I will silently judge you.

Sign-ups are free for a limited time. Because I love you. And you feel it.

All joking aside I’d love for you to sign up.

Please visit: assholeastrology.substack.com

Asshole Astrology — Week of 23 June 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Please ignore me — I’m just bitter.

After getting an MA in Creative Writing, training as a journalist, and a lifetime spent blogging and writing fiction, the thing of mine that gets the warmest response from people by far’s a fake horoscope column that I wrote off-the-cuff as a joke.

I’m not mad, just disappointed.

You see, I wrote a post called Asshole Astrology. It’s ridiculous the number of people who have said they love it, or that it was spookily accurate, given that I made it up off the top of my head.

People keep telling me that their horoscope was exactly what they needed. I feel like yelling at people: “You do know that I make this shit up, right?”

Maybe I should write a horoscope column. I don’t know whether calling it Asshole Astrology is too much (as opposed to something softer like Tough Love Astrology or some shit like that) but, regardless, people are cray cray.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I was secretly psychic, or something, so you always got exactly the advice that you needed to hear but with lots of swearing and snark?!!

Maybe each of them is exactly what everyone needs to hear. So it doesn’t matter which you get. Because we all just need a kick up the arse.

Anyway, as I said before, here’s next week’s horoscope for your sign and everybody else’s. Let me know if you enjoy them.

Why not read the whole thing and pretend that the advice for all the other signs also applies to you?

Should I do them daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly? I ask for a friend.

Oh, and if you’re a professional astrologer, or don’t realise that I’m joking, then please take a nice deep breath and calm down.

There’s no need to send me hate mail like last time.

Aquarius: You create your reality. You’re responsible for everything in your life. You’re perfect as you are but need to take massive action in order to succeed. Just keep calm and move the needle to the next level. Find your bliss. It’s in the results-oriented solutions-driven paradigm shift somewhere outside of the box.

Pisces: They say demons should be exorcised and daemons should be exercised. Not in your case. You need to pay less attention to your daemons and knock your demons into shape. Exorcise your daemons. Stop listening to the voices in your head. Exercise your demons. Nobody likes a fat demon.

Aries: Don’t pretend to be someone that you’re not — pretend to be you at your best. Don’t take this advice too literally. I just mean when at work or doing public speaking and stuff. Not if you want to take on someone else’s identity and kill people. But, you never know, that could work too.

Taurus: You must be positive, cheerful and happy at all times. Never offend anyone or express a strong opinion. Always behave in a way that pleases prospective clients and employers. Don’t try to be funny. Sarcasm is evil and wrong. I’m just fucking with you. You do you boo. You’re good bad, not evil.

Gemini: Albert Einstein wrote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” That it wasn’t really Einstein who said it, but no-one’s really sure who did, is a case in point. Keep that in mind this week.

Cancer: Government guidance on what to do during the pandemic is clear: Stay at home except when you leave the house. Go back to work unless you can work from home. Kids can go to school but can’t play together in the park. Drink tea from an old shoe. Only use umbrellas on a Tuesday. There’s a metaphor for your life in there somewhere.

Leo: The common factor in all your relationships, including the bad ones, is you. This applies to all kinds of relationships in love, friendship, work, or any other aspect of your life. Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, you’re the problem? It might not be your fault but assume that it is. Act accordingly.

Virgo: Is Mercury in retrogade or do you have your head stuck in Uranus? You’re not depressed — you just have a realistic grasp of how the world works and unflinching honesty about what you see. Are people really so coddled that they can’t deal with difficult questions? You already know the answer to that.

Libra: People treat you like shit. People think that you’re shit. People want you to think you’re shit. Maybe you are shit — but you don’t believe that. You think they’re shit. And that what they want from you is shit. And you’re not prepared to put up with their shit any longer. In short: Fuck. That. Shit.

Scorpio: Do you have a nitch? Put some cream on it. If it doesn’t clear up in the next few days then see a doctor. If you listen to marketers or productivity experts imagine they’re constipated and making stupid noises, gurning and straining, whilst they try to take a dump. “Find your nitch!” “Crush it!” “No pain no gain!” “Double down!” “To the max!” You’re welcome.

Sagittarius: Copernicus called. He left a message for you. Apparently you’re not the centre of the universe? Something like that anyway. I wasn’t really paying attention — I was too busy thinking about my life and my problems. The whole world is busy thinking about their lives and their problems. Don’t worry what people think about you — most of the time they don’t.

Capricorn: People say the stupidest things. Sleep like a baby — naked and crying for no reason. Live each day as if it’s your last — running around screaming in terror. I just think it’s bad advice. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Doesn’t that make you want to puke in your soup? To Hell with that. When life gives you lemons, kick life in the nuts.

Chapter 23 – June 2020

Hi! Welcome to Chapter 23.

Become evil. Rule the world. Maybe drink tea first and sit down for a bit.

“For a writer there is no such thing as an exemplary life.”

— Tobias Wolff

My birthday is 23 June. I’m trying to relax. This is more difficult than I remember.

This month, it’s my birthday, it’s my birthday, I ain’t picking up the phone on my birthday.

Don’t…

Chapter 23 — Asshole Astrology

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Everybody knows that astrologers are basically assholes with too much time on their hands and most horoscope writers are failed writers and barely functioning alcoholics.

I mean that in a good way.

As for you being a horrible person — don’t worry, I’m sure that you’re lovely.

Aquarius: You’re being chased by a swarm of angry bees. Luckily they’re far away so if you keep going they won’t be able to catch up with you. Still, remember to be kind to bees — it’s not their fault that they’re angry. We’ve totally screwed them over. Don’t be a dick about it.

Pisces: Some days you’re the mouse. Other days you’re the cheese. This week you’re mostly a mouse made out of cheese being chased by a great big cat who’s lactose intolerant. Who or what is the cat in this metaphor and what does it want from you? That’s what you need to work out.

Aries: Are you insecure about something? You should be! Here’s the secret truth about something you don’t know but feel insecure about anyway. Followed by 10 completely made up reasons that anyone will read anything so long as it’s a list. Self-help doesn’t help. Help yourself.

Taurus: Want to be a morning person? Every day before you go to bed fling yourself into a tree. You’ll wake up with the birds… WHO HURT YOU?!! Stop trying to be so productive all the time. Maybe have an early night, try to get some sleep, or read a book at bedtime or something.

Gemini: Your heart’s in the right place. In a jar on your desk. Next to the much bigger jar of formaldehyde that contains your twin. Why did you kill your twin? And why did you put it in a jar on your desk. That’s a stupid place to hide a body. This week you bury it in the woods.

Cancer: This week will be your best week in about the last 10 years. Or it won’t. Either way you’re still here. You have everything you need. And, short of a great big neon sign pointing in the direction you need to travel, you know exactly what you need to do. Chin up. Fight on.

Leo: You know that old joke about two people in the jungle who get chased by a lion. One says: “We’ll never be able to outrun a lion.” The other says: “I’m not trying to outrun a lion. I’m just trying to outrun you.” Well that. But you’re the lion. And it’s no laughing matter.

Virgo: It’s all a load of old bollocks, really, isn’t it? This horoscope nonsense. Do you think that if I stopped writing them anyone would notice? There’s so many star signs to make shit up for. I am wasting my life! Talk to strangers. Beware of cats. Your lucky number is seven.

Libra: You ever noticed how Libra sounds a bit like library? That’s because your natural habitat is a library. I made that up but go to a library this week. You’re allowed to drink tea and eat flapjacks there to your heart’s content so long as you don’t get anything on the books.

Scorpio: Shit or get off the pot. Can’t you see that there’s a queue here? Other people desperately need to use the loo. Do your business as intended or accept that you won’t, pull your pants up, and get out of there. Either way remember to wash your hands. You’re not an animal.

Sagittarius: Life is a journey. Time is a truck. You are roadkill. If you don’t want to be roadkill then get on the bus. It’s a long journey so you might want to go to the toilet before you set off. And, remember, it’s much easier to ride the bus in the direction that it’s going.

Capricorn: This week you have imposter syndrome. That’s good because you’re a total fraud. Nobody loves you. Everybody knows. I’m just kidding. Stop beating yourself up about nothing you sack of shit. Like I said I’m just joking. Just believe in yourself. You’ve totally got this.

There. I’m a horoscope writer now. Give me all of your money.

Credit: All Images by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay

Chapter 23 — Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Twitter* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

I can teach you everything you need to know about Twitter with a story about three witches. It gives you a framework for understanding which Twitter strategies are most effective. I’ve Twitter trained individual writers, journalists, and artists. I’ve provided internal staff training to charities and managed the Twitter accounts of businesses, third-sector organizations, and creative industries. I’ve also over 15,000 followers on my personal Twitter account so I must be doing something right. Here’s a guide to get you started, some tips and tricks, and that all-important story.

WHAT IS TWITTER?

Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Twitter is a Conversation

Imagine a party to which everyone in the world is invited. People talk to each other, some louder than others, and you’re more than welcome to join in. You can talk about anything with anyone — just try not to bore the other guests.

FIRST STEPS

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

Get Started

  • Sign up for an account: twitter.com/signup

  • Download the official Twitter apps for your computer, tablet or phone

  • The quickest way to learn how to use Twitter is by doing it so jump right in

@ Username

  • Your username is who you are on Twitter

  • People use it to tweet @ you, talk to you, and talk about you

  • Use your real name, company name or something sensible like that

Profile

  • Make your profile as complete, attractive and professional as possible

  • The better your profile the more likely people will follow you

  • Don’t tweet until your profile is done

Don’t be an Egg

  • The default profile picture for a new account used to be an egg

  • Change your picture as soon as possible or no-one will take you seriously

  • It’s best to have a picture of a real person (you) or your company logo

TWEET CHEAT SHEET

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Tweets

  • A tweet is a message (originally of 140 characters or less) — the key question to answer is “What’s happening?”

  • You can add other media such as polls, pictures, videos, animated GIFs, links or your location

  • How you use Twitter is up to you but remember that when you tweet it’s public and can be seen by anyone

  • People can like, retweet (RT) or share your tweets with other people

Following and Followers

  • You follow people whose tweets interest you (or vice versa) — but no-one has to reciprocate or follow back

  • You can create lists of people to see their tweets grouped together — whether you follow them or not

@ Replies

  • Start your tweet @someone to talk to them or reply to their tweet — this can be seen by anyone following both of you

  • Mention @someone within a tweet — they’ll know that you mentioned them but the tweet can be seen by everyone

  • Anyone who sees a tweet can click on @someone’s name to go to their profile and see their tweets

Direct Messages

  • DMs let you talk privately with other Twitter users — they’re good for quick one-to-one chats but that’s about it

  • Assume your DMs won’t stay private — there’s nothing to stop someone taking a screenshot and sharing them

#Hashtags

TIPS AND TRICKS

Photo by Rudi Strydom on Unsplash

Brilliant Bios

  • Use relevant keywords in your bio, include an attractive header and profile pic — make sure you pass the sniff test

  • Link to your website in your bio as well as at the bottom of your profile (so that it appears in search)

  • Set your timezone and location — make sure that it’s clickable and works with the map

Pinned Tweets

Hero Tweets

  • If you want a tweet to ‘go viral’ (and be shared lots) it helps if it’s personal, striking, amusing, interesting or useful

  • Tweet something funny with a big picture and a call to action, such as a link to your website, and people will share it

  • Pin it to the top of your profile and even casual visitors to your profile will see it and respond

  • I call these ‘hero tweets’ because the hero image makes it perfect fodder for pinning to the top of your profile

  • The best size for a hero image on such a tweet is so you can see it all without clicking to expand

  • You can even add more than one picture at a time so that they appear as a gallery

Twitter Doesn’t Have an Edit Button

BEST PRACTICE

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

#RuleOfThumb

  • Play nice but don’t be afraid to be yourself

  • Talk with people, rather than market at them

  • Respond whenever you can

  • Share interesting stuff

  • Add to the conversation

How to Deal with Abuse

  • Adhere to your social media policy

  • You can report, unfollow, mute or block people

  • You can force someone to unfollow you by blocking and unblocking them

  • Be warned that if you block someone they can actually still see your tweets if they log out

Don’t Feed the Trolls

  • Exercise caution if you respond to people who make derogatory or challenging comments about you via Twitter

  • Internet ‘trolls’ do this to provoke an emotional response or disrupt discussions for their own amusement

  • Conflicts can escalate quickly so it’s often best to hold off or not engage

FAQ

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What’s the best time to tweet?

When your audience is awake — there are more scientific answers but that’s what it amounts to.

How do I keep up with everyone’s tweets?

Don’t try to read all of your timeline — that way lies madness. Use lists and third-party apps to manage what you see.

Who should I follow on Twitter?

Friends, colleagues, and people of genuine interest or strategic importance to you or your social media strategy.

Does it matter how many people follow me?

Your Twitter ratio is important as ‘social proof’ — it’s best to follow less people than follow you but don’t stress about it.

How do I get more followers?

Be remarkable, relevant, entertaining and/or of interest to your audience.

How do I get LOTS of followers?

Be famous. If you can’t be famous, be funny. If you can’t be funny, be friendly. If you can’t be friendly, BE CAREFUL.

What’s the big secret?

There are three main strategies to use on Twitter — Black Hat, White Hat, and Grey Hat. The secret is in the grey.

TWITTER STRATEGIES

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Three Witches

Imagine there are three witches (Black Hat, White Hat, and Grey Hat) and each of them uses Twitter in a different way. Black Hat uses her powers for evil, White Hat uses her powers for good, and Grey Hat falls somewhere in between.

Black Hat

Black Hat is the bad stuff that nobody should do. Some of these strategies may appear powerful at first, and you can learn from them, but to use them will upset your followers, hurt your brand, or damage your reputation.

For example:

  • Buying followers

  • Automated Direct Messages or Replies

  • Churning (aggressively following and unfollowing people just to accumulate follow-backs)

  • Spam, Bots, or any other sort of fake engagement

  • Trolling (saying hurtful, inflammatory, or controversial things just to get attention)

White Hat

White Hat is the good stuff that everybody should do. These strategies are the absolute best practice for Twitter, and you should use them first, but used in isolation they won’t necessarily take you as far as you need to go.

For example:

  • Fill out your profile with accurate information

  • Be genuine, honest, and participate in the conversation

  • Share and retweet other people’s content

  • Engage positively with other Twitter users

Grey Hat

Grey Hat is the murkier strategic stuff that falls somewhere in between Black Hat and White Hat. You might dislike these strategies but they’re essential if you’re serious about building a following and using Twitter as a platform.

For example:

  • Scheduled tweets

  • Growth Hacking (and other marketing strategies)

  • Modeling your profile on successful accounts

  • Unfollowing inactive or unresponsive accounts

  • Strategic following of accounts (not based solely on interest)

Which Witch is Best?

Do you want to be Black Hat, White Hat, or Grey Hat? Would you use these strategies exclusively or in combination? At first, you should be White Hat. Make sure your Twitter profile and content is as good as it can be. By all means, learn about Black Hat strategies but steer clear of them. When you’re ready to grow your profile and want to get your hands dirty, it’s okay to go Grey Hat for a while. A healthy balance of White Hat and Grey Hat is probably the best combination. Just remember that Grey Hat is where the magic happens.

DON’T PANIC

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Get Help

  • Help is always at hand — reach out to people on Twitter if you get stuck

  • Twitter has its own help pages, tutorials and support forums: support.twitter.com

  • I can help you too — especially if you want to get more advanced — any questions?

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James Garside is an independent journalist and writer. You can join him on Patreon and chat with him on Twitter.

My Photos of Japan

These are some of my favourite pictures of Japan.

In a way they represent the birth of my love for travel photography.

I took hundreds of photos when I was in Japan, quite a few years back, with a camera that I’d procured the night before.

I didn’t steal the camera so much as borrow it at gunpoint.

Then I taught myself how to use it on the plane and I’ve been breaking the rules of composition ever since.

Don’t worry, I gave the camera back and have since bought one of my own!

See Full Article

Chapter 23 – May 2020

Hi! Welcome to Chapter 23.

Become evil. Rule the world. Maybe drink tea first and sit down for a bit.

“All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery.”

— George Orwell

Bacon is proof that god loves you. Or at least that he hates vegetarians.

This month, I explain Twitter using a story about three witches.

No-One Gives a Shit About Your Blog

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No-one gives a shit about your blog. It’s official. There was a meeting. Didn’t you get the memo? Nobody cares what you think. It’s no longer a secret. No-one has to fake an interest in your problems, read your posts, click your affiliate links, look at ‘cute’ pictures of your cats, or listen to what you have to say. Life is short. People are busy. Leave them alone.

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Twitter* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

I can teach you everything you need to know about Twitter with a story about three witches. It gives you a framework for understanding which Twitter strategies are most effective. I’ve Twitter trained individual writers, journalists, and artists. I’ve provided internal staff training to charities and managed the Twitter accounts of businesses, third-sector organizations, and creative industries. I’ve also over 15,000 followers on my personal Twitter account so I must be doing something right. Here’s a guide to get you started, some tips and tricks, and that all-important story.

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Life is a Shitty First Draft — You Only Get Rewrites if You’re Buddhist

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Søren Kierkegaard said: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

I’ve thought about that a lot lately for a number of reasons both personal and philosophical.

What stories do you tell yourself about your life?

If your life was a book, written by someone you’ve read, who’d be the author?

Would anyone care to read it? Will your life make more sense when you’re dead? And what’s the best way to live forwards?

Life’s a shitty first draft — you only get rewrites if you’re Buddhist.

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Chapter 23 – April 2020

Hi! Welcome to Chapter 23.

Become evil. Rule the world. Maybe drink tea first and sit down for a bit.

“Don’t you just hate how many quotes are incorrectly attributed on the internet?”

— Genghis Khan

I tried to give away 1,000 paid subscriptions to my newsletter for free.

I gave away over 100 but the process is such a pain and fraught with unexpected compli…

Mighty Mur’s Writing Feedback to Me on ISBW #332

I love Mur Lafferty — the Hugo award-winning writer and all round badass.

Her podcast I Should Be Writing kept me company many nights when I should, you know, be writing.

So I was delighted when she gave me some writing feedback on her show. This was about five years ago.

I still feel every day like it’s over, everything is hopeless, and that I might as well quit. Then I remember the advice that she gave to me and I keep going.

Why do I tell you this? Because you should be writing.

Character — The Carrot and Stick Approach

“Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.” — Winston Wolfe, Pulp Fiction

How do you make characters that have character? Here’s my carrot and stick approach.

Badly written characters are cardboard cut-outs: unconvincing, sensational, two-dimensional, exaggerated and only there to serve the plot.

Like painting by numbers or dot…

Testing, testing, one two three…

A bit back I recorded my voice without the aid of an external microphone.

It sounded horrendous, as you might imagine, but I wasn’t allowed to buy an external microphone until I read something out loud and recorded it. 

How did it sound?

Let’s just say I’m available for voice-over work if anyone needs the voice of a creepy serial killer Clown that lost his voice in a scuba-diving accident.

I hate the sound of my own voice but I wanted to test the default microphone that’s built into my laptop.

It’s me reading The Journey by Mary Oliver. Badly. In the bath. Or at least that’s what it sounds like.

I did it in one take.

Why am I sharing it with you?

To highlight that I can send you audio — in the newsletter and as a podcast.

So that you can hear my voice.

So that when I record with a microphone you have something to compare it to.

I want to know what you think of the sound quality.

I want to know if you’d like to hear from me more often.

If I had a podcast what would you most like to hear?

I’ve got a microphone and I’m not afraid to use it.

Ok, that last bit isn’t true.

I do have a microphone but I’m terrified to use it.

That’s why I’m testing the waters.

Testing, testing, one two three…

Rule of Thumb

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These are some of my #ruleofthumb rules of thumb. Tell me yours.
<div class="tweet" data-attrs="{"url":"https://twitter.com/jamesgarside_/status/255586441395044353","full_text":"#ruleofthumb: People who feel the need to tell you that they’ve got an excellent sense of humour, don’t.","username":"jamesgarside_","name":"James Garside","date":"Tue Oct 09 08:32:10 +0000 2012","photos":[],"quoted_tweet":{},"retweet_count":2,"like_count":1,"expanded_url":{}}” readability=”8″> #ruleofthumb: People who feel the need to tell you that they’ve got an excellent sense of humour, don’t.

<div class="tweet" data-attrs="{"url":"https://twitter.com/jamesgarside_/status/255948960232009729","full_text":"#ruleofthumb: Never share a bathroom or a kitchen with someone you don’t already share a bed with.","username":"jamesgarside_","name":"James Garside","date":"Wed Oct 10 08:32:42 +0000 2012","photos":[],"quoted_tweet":{},"retweet_count":0,"like_count":0,"expanded_url":{}}” readability=”7″> #ruleofthumb: Never share a bathroom or a kitchen with someone you don’t already share a bed with.

<div class="tweet" data-attrs="{"url":"https://twitter.com/jamesgarside_/status/256311157336461312","full_text":"#ruleofthumb: My propensity to tell you something is directly proportional to your ability to mind your own business.","username":"jamesgarside_","name":"James Garside","date":"Thu Oct 11 08:31:56 +0000 2012","photos":[],"quoted_tweet":{},"retweet_count":0,"like_count":0,"expanded_url":{}}” readability=”8″> #ruleofthumb: My propensity to tell you something is directly proportional to your ability to mind your own business.