One of the questions that I get asked most often about being a freelance writer is where do I find clients. One of the strategies that works is to visit job boards for freelance writers and applying for available gigs.
In a previous post I said I wasn’t too on board with the whole making a separate Facebook page for your blog (or pages for your many blogs as the case may be). However, after Facebook introduced “Like” vs. “Fan” I felt better about pages in general and finally created my very own blog page. Yikes.
Why the change of heart?
One was because of the “Like” issue – something about the term fan rubbed me the wrong way. Secondly, I thought it was time for a page because my blog’s page views have shot up and I’m writing there more often (i.e. I have way more links now). Plus, I wanted to secure my blog’s name before someone else did.
Mostly though, I created a dedicated Facebook page so I could separate myself from my topic. I write about environmental topics – which is my dream job. Back when I first started blogging I wanted to write about green issues all the time but often, in order to make a living, I didn’t have that kind of choice. I’d write about anything – computers, architecture, budgeting, bullies and more and that was fine, but really I would have rather been writing about green issues.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve managed to carve out a niche for myself by working hard and becoming much more well known in my topic field. Now all my gigs (minus two) are related to the environment and oddly sometimes I get sooooooooo tired of thinking about green issues. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE eco-issues and I know that I’m hyper lucky because I do get to write about a topic I adore day in and day out but honestly, I need a freaking break. Some days I don’t want to have to care about organics and water conservation and energy and greenwashing. I don’t really want to see my personal Facebook page peppered with green links – you know?
Making a page for my eco-links works out better for me in terms of sanity. I get a green break when I visit my own profile page.
Still there are cons though…
- Deb’s post on driving community away from your blog is something you should seriously consider before making a Facebook page.
- Creating a good Facebook page is a little time consuming IMO. I know not everyone agrees, but after managing Facebook pages for clients, I still think managing a page is work. Especially when you run into lame little glitches such as, how to “Like” another page as your page, not as your profile (frustrating). PS I figured that out with some help.
- It’s somewhat difficult to track if a Facebook page is successful. Yeah, you might have 20,000 fans but how does that translate to better traffic, sales, or other perks at your actual blog. I’m sure for some bigger companies the perks are obvious, but for a blog I think it’s harder to track those perks.
Being the hyper anal list-maker that I am, I researched making a successful page before I made mine. You should too. There are many helpful guides out there to help you create a kick-ass vs. mediocre Facebook page. Keep in mind though that your page doesn’t have to start out awesome, it will evolve over time and you should still be yourself. Following are some helpful links.
- How to set up a winning Facebook page
- 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Brand’s Facebook Presence – great help if you’re looking for info about how to size your Facebook page profile image
- How To Develop A Facebook Page That Attracts Millions of Fans – such a loaded lame title IMO, but this post does offer some excellent tips
- The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Facebook
Beyond reading some tip guides I checked out all my favorite pages looking for pros and cons. This is a great tactic when planning your own page because you already know which pages you visit and why. You shouldn’t copy other people’s pages, but gathering ideas is smart. Here are five pages I really like…
Freelance Writing Jobs – NO I was not bribed by Deb. Deb’s page is not flashy and there are no images (something I like in a page) but this is honestly the page at Facebook I visit the most. Why? Because Deb draws me in with fun questions and casual conversation. It’s always a fun page and offers me an awesome break in my day.
The Thrifty Mommy – money saving is a pet topic of mine so I already know a lot. That said I don’t visit this page for tips much BUT if you were a mom looking to learn some money saving tips you’d be all over this page. Karen not only updates frequently, but has a killer profile image that’s cute and attractive and also adds little perks for the community like coupons and recipe images.
Village Free School – this is the page for my son’s school and not a popular page at all. However, what it does well is build a sense of community among members who do have kids at the school and gives a nice sneak peak at what it would be like if your child did attend. There are frequently updated pictures and events and if you’ve got a small local business this is a good page to mimic. One thing I’d suggest – if you have a page like this I’d amp up the conversation; post little questions, like Deb does.
Tremendous News – I LOVE the Tremendous News blog and the Facebook page for said blog is equally as fun. Many of the questions offered up here make little to no sense and sometimes the owner of this blog is hands down rude but he’s always hilarious. This page makes me laugh and this guy gets pages of comments so he must be doing something right.
Local Harvest – this Facebook page isn’t all that interesting in terms of funny content or bling apps but what it does well is delivers what the community wants day in and day out. There’s no going off topic here. If you’re looking for up-to-date info on food news and safety, organics, local food programs and so on, you’re guaranteed to find it here. This is something to keep in mind. You want to offer what your specific community wants. Going off topic often is a little sketchy in terms of a news-minded site.
Of course you can also check out some really popular pages:
Now, will having a Facebook help me out or just give me more to do? Who knows. I know it’ll get those green links off my personal page. I’ll let it fly for a month or so then I’ll come back here and write an update to let you know how it’s going and if I’ve run into any issues.
PS of course, if you’re into green living you can join my page.
Tell me how your Facebook page is doing – OR are you considering starting one? Why?
Just a quick heads up. Today, Facebook decided that “Like” is a better wording choice than “Become a Fan.” Interesting news because we JUST discussed this here; with me and others noting that, “The wording, “Fan” is off-putting.” In fact this wording is one major reason I haven’t felt compelled to create a separate page for any of my sites. Currently I only have a me page.
What Facebook says…
“Introducing the Like button – Starting today people will be able to connect with your Page by clicking “Like” rather than “Become a Fan.” We hope this action will feel much more lightweight, and that it will increase the number of connections made across the site.”
Facebook also noted that they hope this will improve user experience and promote consistency across the site, plus they believe this change offers a more standard way to connect with people, things and topics in which you are interested.
In any case this is good news if the prior wording was annoying you. I know I like the change. What do you think?
Darren had an interesting post up last month at Problogger; maybe you caught it – Dear FaceBook Friends, I’m De-Friending Most of You [It’s Not You, It’s Me]. The post was his public rational as to why soon he’d be deleting all his work contacts from his Facebook account. Darren’s not the only one doing this either. Lately I’ve seen many folks creating their own Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts and other work-personalized social network accounts that allow them to specifically network with work pals and contacts vs. personal real-life friends and family.
Here’s an example; say your name is Bob and you have a blog called Fantasy Cakes. You might set up a Facebook page for Bob where you only friend actual brick and mortar pals and family. You’d set up another Facebook page for Fantasy Cakes where people can friend (or fan) you. You could do the same for Twitter, ThisNext, or any number of social networking sites. You keep your real-life pals on your name account and all work pals, PR contacts and other bloggers on the Fantasy Cake accounts.
Is this a good idea?
Personally, I think it’s the new hip idea, but as for it being a good one, well, that depends on many different factors – who you are, how well you’re know (or hope to be known), and how much free time you’ve got.
The pros of keeping your real-life separate from your work life:
- Your offline friends and family don’t get bushwhacked with a million work links that you’ve posted.
- Your online work pals and editors aren’t subjected to your offline friend’s off color or bizarre comments – you know we all have that one pal offline who can’t seem to figure out that they shouldn’t give away your weird secrets online.
- As Darren pointed out in his post, Facebook friend accounts have a limit. If you’re a popular online identity your work pals and contacts can quickly overrun your actual offline pals. It’s lame to not friend your dad because you’ve got too many work friends.
- It can look more professional if you have networking set up to reflect your work.
- It can help you brand your work. Fantasy Cakes can be it’s own brand vs. the Bob brand.
The cons of keeping your real-life separate from your work life:
- It’s time intensive – this is one of the major reasons why I don’t have many Jennifer accounts vs. work accounts. I don’t have the time. I already run a ton of Twitter, Facebook and other social network accounts for clients, along with my own. If I had to update loads of other accounts for my personal blogs I’d be 100% spent time wise. Sure you can set up instant feeds to save time, but know that it’s not enough to build a following. For example, you could Twitter feed all your personal blogs, but you won’t get as many follows if you’re not on there interacting at least some of the time.
- It seems sort of presumptuous and a little annoying. Lately because everyone I know is setting up new work related accounts I get a ton of emails saying, “You should become a fan of Bob’s Fantasy Cakes!” Frankly, it’s not that important to me to fan everyone. Maybe it’s the wording, “Fan” that’s off-putting or maybe it’s because I don’t have fan pages of my own so all these accounts end up on my Jennifer page or maybe it’s that I don’t want to wade through more links right now. In any case, I’m just not into fanning people’s sites unless I REALLY like them.
- It’s confusing to offline friends. While social networking is old hat if you’re a blogger, your family and even some co-workers who aren’t as online savvy may not get it. You’ve got your Bob page, your Fantasy Cakes page, and if you launch another blog, that page. It can get confusing for people. Which page do they leave comments on, where’s your contact info for work vs. real-life, and aren’t you the same person?
- It’s a lot of work. Creating a popular Facebook fan page, or brand page is much more work than just placing or feeding links. Building a fan page or setting up a blog on Twitter does not mean people will simply come in hordes. Promotion of this sort is practically a job in itself which brings us back to the time issue.
Who should set up separate accounts…
I don’t think everyone should. If you’re extremely popular, can hire social networking help (like a CM), or are very private with your personal life then yeah, it’s likely a good idea to keep accounts separate. If you’re just doing it to gain quick traffic (um, no) or because you read some post that says it’s a great idea, I’d think carefully about it, because it’ll require a lot of time and effort. If you don’t put that time and effort in, you’ve just created one more mess of an area that people have to wade through online.
One more thing to consider is how many of your real-life pals are actually on social networking. I have offline friends and family who are on Facebook, but not enough to make me want separate pages for my work related stuff. My offline pals just don’t use Facebook as much as my work friends. I have ZERO offline family members on Twitter. My family, and actually many of my offline friends are just not into social networking – most (read 99%) don’t even read my blogs. We hang in person or talk on the phone, but they’re just not online often so making separate pages to make them more comfortable seems excessive.
If you do keep your accounts merged…
Keep it clean. Be extra diligent about deleting comments or photos that might make you look bad. I have one real life pal who will post that lame picture of you when you had one too many at the Halloween party or flipped someone off – you DO NOT want co-workers seeing this stuff.
What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons of setting up separate social networking accounts for family vs. work?
During our how to get blogging and web writing series we’re looking at some of the experience that clients are looking for in a blogger or online writer. Last week we heard from Kori Ellis, an editor at b5media. Today we’re going to hear from someone familiar to you – Deb. BUT just in case you’re stopping by and are new to Blogging For A Living, Deb Ng is the founder of Freelance Writing Jobs, co-owner of the blog Kommein – a blog for community managers and author of the ebook “Beyond Blogging: Using Your Blogging Skills for Bigger and Better Things.” Deb’s past and current clients include Oxygen Media, About.com, BlogTalkRadio, the Blog World and New World Expo, b5Media, and many others. Along the way Deb has hired plenty of writers for projects and blogs and here’s what she’s looking for.
1. When you have one open blogger / web writer position OR an open query topic, how many applications do you estimate you receive?
The last time I took an ad for a blogger for FWJ, I received over 500 applications! As you can imagine, it took almost a month to go through them all.
2. Out of those above which percentage of applicants actually follow the directions you posted with the job? For example, you say, “send resume” how many actually do?
Less than 25%, I think. I’m amazed at how many writers feel I’m not paying attention or that the rules don’t apply to them. There are reasons I ask for specific things – the most important reason is to see how well each writer follows directions. The writers who apply might not think that’s important, but I find it very important. For instance, for the last job ad I placed I asked for writers with blogging, especially WordPress experience. I received so many applications from writers with no blogging or WordPress experience. The reason this was important is because I don’t have time to teach people to blog. Now, by applying to this job, these writers wasted my time and theirs.
3. Do you prefer a full resume, a brief email, links to other work. I.e. when someone applies for a position what do you like to see?
I like a resume showing a writer’s history. I learn so much from a resume – the writer’s background, whether or not he or she bounces from job to job, the types of writing done and whether or not they’re a good fit. I also like to see some sort of writing samples – they can be links or scans of printed works or something they typed up the day before. As long as it shows they’re good writers and suited to the task, it doesn’t matter.
4. What makes an applicant stand out as a keeper; or at least someone to interview?
Someone who has experience in the niche. Someone who follows the directions. Someone who took the time to write up a personal response and not just a cookie cutter cover letter. Someone who gets what I do and why I do it. Someone who believes in FWJ (or the current project) and isn’t only taking the job for self promotional reasons.
5. Is there anything that makes you trash an application right away?
“Google Me” applications. Cover letters that are filled with typos. Arrogance. People who forget to remove the name of the person they sent the cover letter to before me. I want to know this job means something to them.
6. What sort of writing experience do you like to see in a potential hire?
They need to know how to complete a sentence, for sure. Write clean and compelling copy. Blogging experience if it’s for a blogging gig.
7. Are there any other blogging/web writing related experiences you’d like to see in a potential hire?
I’m pretty easy. I don’t necessarily have to hire writers fresh from the New York Times, but as this is a writing network, experience in this field is essential – and I’m talking about more than Ezine Article and Associated Content experience.
8. What sort of other experience might you hire someone with – i.e. they don’t have a huge writing portfolio but they do have say life experience in the topic? Would you consider hiring them?
I might hire an English major to write a grammar blog if she doesn’t have much field experience, but I can’t hire a blogger to show others where to find work if they’ve never done so themselves. It depends on the topic, really.
9. What do you wish applicants knew before they applied?
We want more from writers than “Google me”. Sell yourself. Why are YOU good enough to write for MY network. Why should I hire you to work here over all the other applicants. And, for gosh sakes, know a little bit about the place before you send in the details. If you’ve never been here, and it shows, I’m not going to hire you over a productive member of the FWJ community.
10. In order to successfully apply for and possibly score a blog or web writing gig, is there anything else you think it’s important that writers know?
Your potential client will most likely Google you. Be mindful of what you’re putting out there.
AND BACK TO ME…
As I noted in Kori’s interview, I’m holding off on posting my full opinion until I’ve posted all the interviews. Then we can look at client trends. However, note that already Kori and Deb said some of the same things – follow directions, don’t send “Google me” cover letters and seriously, know what a blog is if you’re applying for a blog gig. Hopefully some of this is sinking in.
What do you think of this interview? Did you pick up any handy tips you can use the next time you apply for work?