The other day I had an interesting discussion with several of my Twitter friends. During the course of the discussion one of them made a comment that Twitter was not sending enough work their way.
Afterwards, I thought about the comment and realized that some writers may not really understand how to find work through social media. Yet, I know from personal experience that social networking is effective for finding writing projects. What’s the disconnect?
In this post, I’ll discuss some reasons why social media may not be yielding leads for writing jobs.
My Real-Life Examples
I thought it would be helpful to start out with some real-life examples of how I’ve found work on the Internet. Here are my examples:
- Joe Smith–I first encountered Joe Smith four years ago on a social media tool called MyBlogLog. Joe quickly became a regular commenter on this blog (and I left regular comments on his blog). In that time, we came to respect each other’s abilities. After about a year, we agreed to refer some of our overload writing work to each other. I’ve sent several projects Joe’s way and I grossed several thousand dollars from one of the projects Joe referred to me. Over time, we’ve kept in touch with each other using at least three different social media tools as well as through email and our blogs.
- Sally Jones–Sally was one of the first people to leave a comment on my blog posts. Sally’s comments were always insightful and detailed. She made a point to connect with me on multiple social media tools, which we used to have real conversations about some of our mutual interests several times a month. After three years of staying in touch like this, Sally found herself in charge of several very large writing projects and needed to hire subcontractors. Naturally, I was one of the freelancers Sally contacted.
- Mike Williams–Mike read one of my blog posts here and sent me an email with some questions. I sent a very detailed answer back. Mike was surprised at the detail in my answer and offered a small writing project to me right away. He was satisfied with my work on the small project, and has offered me many writing projects since. Mike and I continue to stay in touch, mostly through Twitter direct messaging, and he continues to offer me work and encouragement.
(Please note that I’ve changed the names in my examples to protect my friends from getting a flood of emails from writers looking for work.)
Of course, these are just three examples of how I’ve connected with others online and how those connections eventually turned into paying gigs. I could name at least a dozen other similar examples.
You’re Making Friends and Work is Just a Side-Effect
One reason that some writers don’t find work through social networks is because they skip the crucial step of building a relationship. They target an individual, or share their job hunt in a general fashion, but they never connect with anyone on a personal level.
To really succeed at networking a relationship is vital. From the relationship comes trust and sometimes that trust leads to work. Your main goal should be to make friends and the work will most likely follow.
I should also mention that, while I seek out and connect with those who have similar interests, I don’t push anyone to hire me. In fact, most of the time I’m not really sure if the person I’m connecting with will ever have work for me.
Some online connections never lead to work–and that’s okay. I still find those online friendships to be invaluable. It’s great to have a trusted colleague to discuss things with and learn from. My online relationships have encouraged me more than I can say.
However, I should also share that I don’t connect with those who I don’t have anything in common with. For example, I have very little interest in following celebrities, nor could I ever see myself as a celebrity blogger. So, even though social media is filled with those who love to chat about celebrities, I don’t involve myself in those discussions.
The Tool Doesn’t Matter
In light of what I just shared with you above, I’d like to go one step further and say that the tool that you use to connect with others doesn’t really matter. In fact, connections don’t even have to be made through social media as long as you are connecting with someone. You could use your phone or email just as well.
Personally, I like to use Twitter for several reasons:
- It’s convenient. It’s easy to use and there are not a lot of complicated features to learn.
- It’s popular. Twitter has a large number of users who discuss areas that are of interest to me.
- It’s instant. The direct messaging feature is a quick way to communicate directly with someone.
However, if you are more comfortable connecting through another tool–by all means, use that tool instead. It’s not the tool that matters, but the quality of the relationships that you build.
Patience Is a Virtue, Especially in Networking
The final reason that some writers don’t find work through social media is because they aren’t patient. I chose the examples above for a specific reason. I wanted to show that, athough sometimes people hit it off quickly, in most cases it can take years to build a working relationship online.
In fact, the instance I gave above where I connected quickly with a colleague/client has been the exception.
What’s Your Take?
What’s your experience on social media networking? Is it a waste of time, or a great way to make connections that can sometimes lead to paying work?