Most writers remember the day they said out loud, “I want to be a writer.” If you don’t remember one important event, it’s because it happened multiple times. You have to convince yourself, and everyone around you, that it’s a possibility. By your own admission, the idea didn’t come without a certain degree of skepticism as to whether becoming a writer, and just a writer, is attainable or not.
In a world that relies on social media for its linguistic prowess, it can be difficult for those of us who make language studies a primary concern to see our own worth as hashtags permeate everything we read. But knowing how to use language with vicious honesty is a gift. Social media is a gift for showcasing that talent. Social media is actually the key to successfully presenting yourself as a writer.
Here are some tips on using social media to your advantage:
Gather your resources and materials
Before you can start a writing career, it’s important to put together a portfolio. This shouldn’t be your old school manila folder. This is an online portfolio. Include your resume, which you should build to show previous writing experience. Collect every article you’ve ever written into one locale.
If you don’t have an electronic copy, scan what you do have and store it electronically. You will need this for any potential future freelance work. In the Library you have some great resources and ideas for creating engaging and interactive online portfolios. The first way to start your freelance career is to give yourself a professional look with your portfolio.
Know your strengths as a writer
“Jack of All Trades” does not exist. Everyone says it’s true, but it’s not. Find out what you know. If you are currently employed, you likely know quite a bit about your current position. Write about topics relevant to your position, or consider continue your education to build on your strengths in areas that already interest you.
If you spend some free time quietly exploring the local art museum, write about the collection you see. People who are passionate about their subject will be able to make other people passionate about their subject. That’s a tremendous value when you get into the social media scene. It’s a good idea to start this process by building a portfolio because you’ll be able to view and compare your writing.
Go through and list what areas you are really good at writing, and which you are not. When you are looking for work, you will be able to know for sure that certain areas are more your style. This is also a good time to review your weaknesses and which areas need more material and need work on. For example, if you don’t have a news-type article, you might want to spend some time improving the section.
Do social media research
Find out exactly what each new section of social media has to offer. If you don’t know what a tweet is, find out what a tweet is. If you don’t know why it matters if a Facebook group has 5 “likes” or 5000, find out (hint: you want more “likes”). Do some reading.
Spend time surfing the internet. Get an idea of what it means to be engaged on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest. Topsy is an excellent tool to find out what topics are trending on the web, what topics have passed, and who are the leaders in each of these topics. This will make you more marketable as you will be aware of the latest trends.
You can also find work this way because most of the time, people will be tweeting or posting what they need to do! The third thing you must do to start your freelance career is get to know the online world and prove that you can be a part of it.
Create personas online
Decide which media outlet is the best fit for you, and start creating your social media career. Whatever you do, you want to be able to easily manage and maintain each outlet you use. It is often recommended that you create an account that is separate from any personal account you may be currently using.
Your professional world doesn’t need to know what you look like when you get out of bed in the morning, unless you’re writing about sleep patterns for sleep deprived people. Follow this old-school mantra and you’ll be fine: If you didn’t let your grandma see it, don’t put it online. It’s slightly modified. WinePress Publishing blog has some great advice on how to establish yourself online.
Showcase your writing on your Facebook page and tweet related newsworthy posts. This will show that you know what you’re talking about! The final step is to learn all of them, now put them to use and show off your stuff.
Participate in online writing groups
Look for available freelance groups as a resource to learn about writing, find gigs, and connect with like-minded people, the latter of which is essential. Social networks are just that: a place to network. Use online writing groups to connect with people. Comment on articles that interest you and start a conversation with the author. Building relationships with people in these online groups will increase your knowledge of different subject areas. This group of people will provide insight into better ways to express yourself through your writing, as well as better ways to market what you write.
Ask for feedback from your fans and followers. Learn what posts and topics are generating the most interest and movement on your site. Make sure you respond to every comment so they know you care what they have to say. It may sound boring, but if you respond to them, they’ll be more likely to come back and respond to you.
In fact, the more interaction you have with your fans and followers, the more credibility you’ll have when you ask to be a guest writer on someone’s blog, or ask to write an article for a local newspaper. Even better, you get an advantage when someone asks you to write for them. Learn how to create content that requires feedback. Ask questions, be funny, suppress emotion, use infographics, try to be memorable.
Starting a career to be freewriting can be a challenge. Learning the ropes of social media online can feel just as impossible. But when the room quiets down, and the barely audible giggles wear off, you’ll realize that climbing the ropes to a job you love is well worth the climb, and social media makes it even easier.
To start your career as a freelancer, you will need to follow the steps above. By compiling your writing selections, you learn about your strengths, work on them, showcase yourself, and connect with others on social media and writing groups! Over time you will learn what you have to offer and how you can improve, and that’s how you start your career! Good luck!
Image by Brave Librarian