by Deborah Ng
Social media is the practice of using online tools and resources to share and discuss items of interest. As a freelance writer you may think this isn’t your problem, but I’d like to play devil’s advocate, if you don’t mind. Freelancers need and should embrace social media if they want to be a success.
Social Media Ensures an Online Presence
You may have noticed more businesses are looking to create an online presence. They’re hiring bloggers, web content writers, community managers and social media strategists. Some of us predicted this trend years ago. You see, the Internet is too big to ignore. Businesses of all sizes are learning they have to have a web presence to succeed. They can do this using social media. You will also need to learn social media if you want to work for one of these businesses, or noticed by them.
Network with Movers and Shakers
If you worked at home without the benefit of an Internet connection you reach a limited circle of people. When you create an online presence for yourself, you have the opportunity to network with people from all over, and many of these people are in a position to advance your career. For example, A couple of years ago I heard Darren Rowse was looking for guest bloggers to fill in while he went on vacation. I sent him an email asking if I could write a guest post and he encouraged me to do so. When the post went live, I mingled with Darren’s community and gained a many new readers and friends in the process. In the real world, if an editor of a large well-known newspaper was looking for someone to fill in for him on vacation, he certainly wouldn’t have chosen an unknown freelancer.
Another example is my Twitter presence. In real life I can be a very shy person. I’m not aggressive or in your face when it comes to marketing or promotion. Sure, I did some cold-calling to introduce myself to people who might be in need of my services, but the huge career boost came from cyberspace. In fact, I did one very small thing when I was a candidate for the job I have now as Community Manager for BlogTalkRadio that moved my resume to the top of the pile. I found the CEO on Twitter and followed him. That was enough for him to see that I knew my way around the social media-o-sphere, and also I was willing to do some research and find him to follow.
There is no denying you can meet more people, and important people at that, at social media sites.
Learn and Share
Social Media isn’t only about meeting people. It’s about finding and sharing information. When you post links to Digg or Twitter, you’re sharing something cool with other people. Sure, it brings in traffic, but the whole sharing thing is pretty darn cool in and of it’s own. It was through social media that I found some valuable resources, links to help me be a better writer, fun distractions and even breaking news.
You know what else I love about social media? The biggest names in the bunch are usually the most willing to share and give of themselves. There’s no competition, just cool people sharing cool ideas.
How Can a Freelance Writer Use Social Media?
There are many ways freelance writers can benefit from the use of social media. For instance, a few days ago we discussed using Twitter. You can also use FaceBook and MySpace to network with other writers. You can join groups of like-minded people, set up e-book or article launches as events and create and share blog posts through social bookmarking sites like Stumble Upon or del’icious.
I think many people hear “social media” and think automatically of Digg. Digg is only one type of social media tool. Explore the different sites and see which ones work best for your needs. Even something so simple as joining a Yahoo or Google group can you too gain traffic or meet people who can help in your careeer.
Social networking, talking with others through the various social media and network sites is probably the single most importan thing you can do for your career right now. Even if your focus is print, magazines now have an online presence. Find out where the people you need to know meet and communicate and make yourself part of the community. You’ll wonder why you didn’t try it earlier!
Excellent post! My only issue with social networking is that I tend to get too social and don’t get much work done. Sometimes it can be hard to find the line between networking and wasting time. 🙂
Deborah Ng says
Welcome to our new digs!
They can be a time suck for sure. I have to shut down my twhirl during “business” hours much of the time. The good news though is that I’m expected to use social networking tools for my job so I can still benefit from the distraction.
Ah, a job with a bonus! 😉 I recently discovered LinkedIn and, without really knowing what I was doing, ended up inviting half my address book. That in itself wasn’t so bed. Then the responses started rolling in. Oh, boy! I was, um, a little overwhelmed. I think I got all of four lines done for a review I was writing.
I do find it very cool on sites like Twitter, for example, where I actually get to interact with so many knowledgeable people. One question though (and please forgive my newbie-ness), when you tweet to a particular person and they respond with “RT”, what does it mean? I believe in means “re-tweet” but again, huh? Gosh I feel old now. Should I ask my teenagers?
Thanks for the awesome site Deb. I so appreciate that as you grow, I am able to grow as well. 🙂
I have been studying and practicing Social Media from a business perspective for some time now. When done properly, it is a very powerful tool.
Using established social media platforms you suddenly have the potential to contact thousands of people. Not only that but as you mention in your example above, you can communicate with the decision makers in a way that wasn’t possible in the past.
Before freelancing, I was the p.r. director for a major real estate brokerage. I was amazed by how many Realtors knew they needed to be using Facebook, LinkedIn or a blog but couldn’t quite comprehend how to go about it. At the same time, there were some who had figured it out and were doing an excellent business using social media as their main source for bringing in new business.
The techniques Realtors used apply to anyone who is selling a service such as freelance writing.
Since going out on my own, I’ve started an e-newsletter to address that very issue (“Social Marketing 2.0”. The corresponding blog should be up an running by the end of the week.
Hope this helps,
Deborah Ng says
I believe all businesses can benefit from social media. I love seeing the ones that get it – the others will come along in time.