I know, you’ve spent years making connections and finding your niche/ building community on Twitter, then Musk bought it and history happened. In this BlueSky Newby Guide, I’ll go through what features Bsky has and doesn’t have (yet), profile set up, using feeds to find your people and interacting tips.

Not another NEW Platform!?

Blue Sky (bsky) is basically Twitter. Look at my Bsky dashboard (below). It’s VERY similar. The general differences with Bsky include no algorithms, no sponsored ads, no trending topics (very little rage baiting), alt text is encouraged, and transphobes ARE NOT WELCOME —nor are fascists. (I rarely see either complaining no one will debate other people’s right to human rights with them because like most Bsky users —I’ve blocked them).

Getting Started: Profile Set Up

Be sure to fill in your bio so we know you’re not a bot. If you can find space, consider including alt text for your cover photo, as Bsky doesn’t have that option on the cover image itself (yet). Cover photos don’t tend to crop well. I ended up shrinking my covers on a larger background on Canva and uploading to Bsky multiple times, using trial and error to get this fit.

Bsky profile, with menu left, cover image of 'Ruarnon Trilogy' with 4 book covers against a dark sand dune and starry sky.Profile pic of Elise inset.Elise (they/them) *rainbow and 3 books emoji* Celebrating a book Launch!Elise's bio: Epic YA Fantasy Author. Teacher. AroAce, ND, chronically ill enby.
???????? *Aussie* on Wurundjeri country.
#IndieAuthorChat
host*rainbow, 3 books* ????????Fantasy Books elisecarlson.comIndie *3 books* ????Launch Support Discord: bit.ly/3vFvXGiNewSky Guide: bit.ly/BskyGuide

You’ll note my bio gets personal. I’m openly nonbinary, neurodiverse and chronically ill, and happy to present publicly as such and to discuss all three to raise awareness. Don’t feel you owe anyone this information. But do consider including your traits, interests etc —things you will post about, that will help your people recognise you as their people.

No Pinned Posts (Yet), So Instead…

Bsky doesn’t have pinned posts. If you normally have images, links or other in pinned, try to get them into your cover image and bio instead. As an indie author my pinned post is normally book one in my series, with a description or teaser and cover. So my cover photo is my book covers, and my bio explicitly states that I write epic YA fantasy. I’ve also included a link to the books page of my website.

(I don’t use Linktree because it looks like decision paralysis to me. And the advantage of my site page over BooksToRead is I can link my books on Goodreads, Storygraph and Bookbub, as well as stores and subscription services. And by linking my site —my site gets the SEO boost, and its still easy for people to browse my blog or sign up to my author newsletter.)

First/ Intro Post

Not everyone you knew on Twitter will be on Bsky, and some people on Bsky never had a Twitter account. There will be people in whichever communities, interest groups or fandoms you’re part of whom you don’t yet know. So assume we don’t know you, tell us who you’d like to hang out with in your intro post and maybe give us a question to answer. For example, my intro post is below.

BlueSky PostText: Hello BlueSky! Where are my fellow #Fantasy/ #SFF/ #IndieAuthors/ poets? Pantsers? Fellow queer and or ND people? Aussies?I'm all of the above, and writing my third epic YA Fantasy set beneath sorcerous skies, where a continent-wide war is brewing. Happy to talk all things writerly/ authorly!

Why bother? So when more of us know who you are, have interacted with you in a digital ‘meeting each other’ way and are more likely to interact with your posts.

Finding Your People: Following

The tried and tested method so far has been find your mutuals by looking at who friends you’ve found are following.
If you’re a writer and you knew me on Twitter, I’ve linked as many writer friends as I could by their Insta and Bsky handles and by genre, identity, country on this (view-only, master) spreadsheet. If you’re a writer and would like to be added, you can link your bsky handle in appropriate categories on this editable spreadsheet and I’ll paste them over to the master.

Finding Your People: Feeds

Bsky vertical menu
Text: search, Follow, OnlyPosts, Aussie Feed, Australian Media, Aussie & Kiwi Writers, Writerly & Authorly Posts (etc). More Feeds.

I won’t give advice on general posting yet. Because to understand post visibility, you need to understand how posts are organised on Bsky. You have many options in another menu in your profile here (right/ below). You’ll have a feed of everyone you’re following. Under that, you can pin feeds of any topic or community you wish to see (and ‘Only Posts’ which filters out reposts and replies of your followers, showing only organic posts).
Posts are displayed on feeds if they include the keywords or emojis described a the feed’s description.

Adding Feeds

So how do you find feeds displaying posts you might want to see, or get your posts displayed on?

1.Under the feed menu (pictured right/ below), select ‘more feeds’. That will display this menu.

2. Enter topics that interest you in the search bar.

3. To add a feed to your feed menu, select the plus symbol. (Select the bin to remove a feed from your menu if you change your mind).

Text: Discover new feeds, Search.
Two hands making a heart symbol beside: For You. Plus symbol (right).
Blye square with white flame on. What's Hot Classic, bin (right).

My Favourite Feeds

Writing Feeds

Writing & Authoring: picks up: ‘writer(s)’, ‘author(s), *hand holding pencil emoji* ‘(#Am)writing(community)’ by me.

SFF Writing -Fantasy, SciFi, general SFF and writing/ editing/ writer/ author, or *trident emoji* by me.

Writing Prompts – #vss365, #vsspoem, #whistpr, #mpotd and other vss by Helen Whistberry.

Querying Writers, by me.

Indie Author Life
by @larisa-a-white.bsky.social, whom you’ll need to ask to add you.

Book Sky

BookSky:
Posts with *blue heart & 3 books emoji*

Diverse Books
Posts with: *globe with the Americas & 3 books emoji*

SFF Books: Posts with Fantasy/ SciFi, SFF etc.

Queer Bookworms
Posts with *rainbow emoji & 3 books emoji*

Queer SFF
Posts with *rainbow, rocket & shooting star emoji*
(Or keyword combos, see its description).

Trans Books: Posts with #TransBooks365

Aussie Feed

Aussie Feed posts naming Australia or its capital cities.

LGBTQIA+ Feeds

LGBTQIA+ Posts picks up LGBTQIA+ and most queer identify words by me.

Asexual Spectrum picks up asexual, aromantic, aroace, asexuality, *a black & a purple heart emoji* etc. by me.

GenderQueer: picks up genderqueer, genderfluid, nonbinary etc, by @plutopsyche.nicomaramckay.com.

Disability Feeds

Neurodiversity: all ND posts.

AuDHD, ADHD & Autism posts and quote reposts.

Chronic Illness

Disability

Writer/ Wip Chats

These are just getting started. I’ll try to add more as they arrive.

Daily
#WIPSnips by Rosie J. Potter invites you to share a passage from your wip containing its prompt word.

#SmoreWords created by CK Knight and run by Daniel Aegan and Jude Graves invites you to respond to daily prompts about your wip.

Weekly

#KidLitChat by Bonnie Adamson
Open to Kidlit writers
Tuesdays: 9pm EST.
The chat is one question weekly posted by this account.
It looks like participation is by replying directly to that post, on the chat hashtag.

#HorrorWritersChat by Matt Mason
Open to horror writers
Wednesday: 7pm GMT.

#MomsWritersClub hosted by Sarah Read and Jess.
Open to writers who are ‘Moms, furball moms, other parental units, people who have moms… as long as you’re kind’
Wednesdays

#WeekNightWriters by Dianna Gunn
Open to all writers.
Thursday: 7-8pm EST

#WowChat by Talli Morgan
Open to all writers.
Friday: 7-8pm EST. Discontinued? (Hasn’t run for two months).

#SFFChat by C.J Subko
Open to SFF writers
Friday: 2pm CST (Aussie Sat EST 7am) Fortnight or weekly TBC. Same format as above.

#WITD by Payne Sillavan
Open to all writers, some prompts having a dark/ horror leaning angle. Same format as above.
Friday: 5pm central. Paused, possibly discontinued.

#LateNightWrite hosted alternately by Blackbird and Jo Bruehler
Open to all writers.
Saturday: 10pm central/ (Sun 2pm Aussie EST summer time). This chat has its own feed.

#MiddeGrade Chat by Ros Dando
Sunday: 5pm GST, for MG writers. Paused for 5 months. Discontinued?

Following Feed -Making it Easy to View

Your Following/ Home feed automatically displays posts by people you follow AND all replies to those posts AND everyone you follows reposts. If this is too much, you have a few options.

  1. Go to ‘settings’
  2. Select ‘Home Feed preferences’.
    Here you decide whether to see or hide all replies, to only display replies by people you follow, or to remove all reposts from your feed.
  3. Select right for ‘no’, left for ‘yes’ to change any of these 3 settings.
  4. Select ‘Done’ (blue button at the bottom).
Home Feed Preferences.
Show Replies (ser to 'No' to hide all replies.
Blue toggle button beside 'Yes'.
Reply Filters.
Enable this setting to only see replies by people you follow.
Grey toggle button beside Followed users only.
Adjust the number of likes a reply must have to be shown on your feed.
Blue toggle button beside 'show all replies.'
Show Reposts
Set this setting to 'no' to hide all reposts from your feed.
Blue toggle button beside 'yes.'

Following Feed Display -Content

Another thing about settings is it will default to not displaying adult content, which includes sexual content, violence, nudity (yes, a happy snap of a woman showing some cleavage will be censored as nudity), hate groups, suspected impersonation and spam. There are harmless emojis I can’t see in my followers posts because I can’t work out which setting in Adult Content Settings is bothered by it. So if you’d like to see things rated anything above G by Bsky:

  1. Select ‘Moderation’ (the handle symbol in your main menu, above settings)
  2. Select ‘Content Filtering’ and ‘hide,’ ‘warn’ or show to suit your preferences.

Posting & Getting Seen (Feeds, not Hashtags)

You’ve got 300 characters to play with. So how do you get your posts seen by your people? Hashtags don’t work the way you’re used to. You can select them to see a feed of what people are posting on them, but they don’t impact your visibility via algorithm.

Keywords (and sometimes emojis) are more likely to get your posts onto topically relevant feeds (only older feeds pick up hashtags specifically), with the exception of chat hashtags (tags for prompts posted regularly that have moved to Bsky from Twitter).

1. Go back to feeds you added above,

2. Select the 3 dots (top right of the feed name).

3. Select ‘about this feed’.

4. Check which keywords and emojis get your posts displayed on that feed.

5. Use any combination of relevant keywords/ emojis on your post to put it on multiple relevant feeds.

Note: you can put pairs of emojis ‘back-to-front’ and they still display on that feed.

Writer/ Author/ Book Visibility

Writers, our main key words are: writer(s), author(s), and any words containing ‘writing’ (this includes WritingCommunity, etc).
Book Feeds: see links under ‘Book Sky’ and ‘My Favourite Feeds’ above.

Alt Text

Alt text is big on Bsky. We want all users to enjoy content posted. If you tend to forget to add alt text to images in your posts, good news —you can adjust your settings so Bsky will not let you hit ‘post’ till you’ve added alt text.

1. Go to ‘Settings’
2. Accessibility (forth option down)
3. Flip the toggle beside ‘require alt text before posting’ to blue.

Sharing Links in Posts

If you paste a link into a post, a little box will appear saying, ‘add link card’. Selecting this will add a link card. Then you can delete the link text from your post, saving characters.
Be warned, if the link makes your post exceed the 300 character limit, Bsky may cut off characters over the limit, breaking the link. So always check your complete link has pasted.

NB: there are no algorithms on Bsky, so unlike on Twitter, posts containing links will not be penalised and are just as visible.

Bsky Lists

This is a new function that looks like feeds, but has key differences. Its a better way to display posts of and stay in touch with people you know, as opposed to following feeds by topic.

Differences With Lists:
-List Feeds don’t pick up posts by keyword.
-List feeds display only, but also all posts of people added to the list.
-You can create your own lists within Bsky (in the same menu that lets you post, view feeds, etc).
-You can add people to lists (go to that person’s profile and hit the 3 dots next to the ‘follow’ button for a menu to do this).
-The ‘about’ section of a list displays the profiles of every account that has been added to that list.

My Lists

I’ve made A LOT of lists. The screenshot below is a menu for them, and every list is linked into that thread. You can also view all of my lists by visiting my profile and looking at the menu under my bio (‘lists’ is on the right end).

If you’d like to be added to any of my lists, let me know by replying to my post below by selecting it.

Emoji flags or relevant symbols beside each keyword describing Elise's Lists:
????????Aussie
????????Kiwi
????????Uk
????????Euro
????????Merican
????????Canada????️‍????LGBTQIA+
Neurospicy
♿Disabled/Chronic illness✍️Writers
????Fantasy
????SciFi
????SFF
????Horror/Dark
????️Historic
????‍????‍????KidLit
Poets
????️Mystery/Thrill????Indie Authors
????️‍????Queer Rep/Romance/Themes
????SFF: trans, enby, asexual,????️‍????
BIPOC
ND/Dis

Functions That Don’t Exist (yet) & Suggested Alternatives

No AlgorithmsRepost

Likes have no impact on visibility. Re-post just shares posts with whoever of the reposter’s followers is on their feed at that time. I’ve found this means my posts get the most interaction in their first 3 hours (if America is awake then). Early Aussie afternoons, when America and Europe are sleeping (except the night owls) tend to be VERY quiet.
I doubt this will change, so if you see a post you think is helpful/ enjoyable etc -repost it to your followers! This is our main way for anything worth seeing to get seen —and if you quote repost with topical words, (add a comment to the repost) this will often repost to feeds too).

Pinned Posts -Jam it in your Bio

Whatever doesn’t fit into your bio has no real alternative to a pinned post (yet). This seems to be why when I arrived on Bsky there was a big trend of re-intro posts, as people’s original intros got buried below other posts on their profiles.

Bookmarking PostsRepost

As there isn’t an option for bookmarking (yet), the only thing to do to have a copy somewhere of posts you may normally bookmark is to repost them to your profile (which helped me add chats and feeds to this blog 😉 ). Long term, you’ll have to link posts elsewhere. (I link them in my writer Discords).

Direct Messages

There is no Bsky alternative for this (yet). Many of us tend to use Discord for direct messaging, or group private conversations, which, like Bsky, has the advantage of not being owned by Musk or Zuckerberg.

Ask Bsky Developers For Functions

There’s a ‘send feedback’ link on your profile (mine displays under my feed’s menu on computer). Selecting that lets you fill in a form to ‘make product suggestions.’ I’ve already made my case for adding pinned posts and requested bookmarks, so we can store things we want to refer back to, without those posts getting buried.

I hope this is all helpful as you get started. Welcome to Bsky!