Carson, one of our newest bloggers at FWJ had a great post today: Writing Talent and Success as a Freelancer. Carson discussed how writing talent will only get you so far and your ability to master the business end of freelance writing is what is going to make the difference between eating steak or bologna. I added the bologna part, but it’s an important point to consider. Writers define their success in different ways – first when they get published, then when they can live off their earnings. The question is what are you eating steak or bologna?
There are many talented writers who never get out of the lunchmeat stage because they don’t know how to roll their published work into more work. The idea is that once you finally get a coveted published clip under your belt you can write your ticket to success on your talent. The problem is if no one knows about you, if no one outside the publication’s audience sees your work you may not get too far.
It’s not enough to write an article and forward the clip to editors in a query anymore. Successful freelance writing is about building relationships with editors, clients, bloggers, readers and others in the business or your niche. Social networking, whether micro-blogging on Twitter or being active on Facebook, is an essential skill for writers.
The goals of networking your work are to build up your own buzz, connect with others in your field and show publications you write for that you can bring in readers, clicks, etc. You also want to become the person others think about when they are looking for writers to hire. I have gotten more work, speaking opportunities, etc. through people coming across my work via Twitter and Facebook and the relationships I’ve developed through these sites.
Writers have to go beyond opening a Twitter or Facebook account and just posting links to their articles. Successful social networking is like networking out in the real world – you have to build relationships and conversation around your work and the work of others. If you only post links to your items you quickly go the way of commercials in cyberspace – earning barely a glance. To network your articles:
- Seek out and follow those in your field, well-known and lesser-known alike. Everyone’s following ProBlogger and should he’s got fantastic stuff, but what about those other bloggers who aren’t huge cyber-stars? There are other sites, editors and publications that offer up great opportunities as well.
- Contribute to the conversation when you have something to contribute. Tweets or FB comments with “I agree.” or “LOL!” are fine, but if that’s 90 percent of your comments you start to look like that weird person at the meeting who hovers just on the outside of the group dying to get into the conversation by laughing when everyone else laughs and hrrumps when others do. You become forgettable.
- Include your article links, but read and forward other links as well. There’s a lot of great work out there, including yours. People will trust you have a good selection of retweet or article links when you forward other things worth reading as well as your own. They are also more likely to click your links.
- Add a catchy title where there is none. What makes people click? What is going to get editor’s interested in your post? An interesting headline or blurb. When I retweet I’ll add a little bit of what the article is about or one interesting point in the piece.
- Add a tweeted/FB response to a query letter. When relevant, remind the editor of a previous article they liked or responded to and roll that into your pitch to them.
- Send a link to an editor when it’s something you know they might like. Not a link to a competitor’s site though, you can imagine how well this would go over: “Hey Anna [Wintour], I thought you’d might like this article I wrote for Harper’s Bazaar.” I’m talking more about a tech article on kid apps for your iPhone-loving editor whose wife just had a baby.
Networking your work shouldn’t take a lot of time or effort, if you make it a part of your regular work cycle and you enjoy the relationship aspect of it, you’ll look forward to this little piece of freelance upkeep.