Two or so years ago, if you would’ve asked me, “Hey, Kat! If you had to pick one social platform that you think will be most helpful to you as you get your freelance writing business up and running, which one would you choose?” (I don’t know why you’d ask me that—but, roll with me here), my answer probably would’ve looked like this: “Well, LinkedIn, duh.”
And, yes, that’s true. I’ve sung the praises of LinkedIn more times than I can count, and it’s been an undeniably huge help in growing my reputation and even landing clients.
But, there’s another social network that just sort of popped up out and proved its value to me early on in the freelance game. What one? Twitter, my friends.Twitter will be a big benefit to you as a #freelancewriter: Click To Tweet
You already know this: We live in the digital age. A vast majority of our communication is conducted from behind a computer screen. I have clients that I’ve never met in person. Believe it or not, I have long-time clients that I’ve never even spoken to on the phone.
Oddly enough, Twitter has become one of my favorite ways to interact with current and prospective clients as well as other freelancers and influencers. It’s the perfect low-pressure environment for quick (I mean, you can’t beat 140 characters) and friendly conversations and shows of support. There’s just something that feels more personal and less rigid than what LinkedIn has to offer (sorry, LinkedIn—I still love you).
I’ve even used the majestic power of Twitter to help me land a few freelance writing gigs. I remember one client in particular who said in their initial email to me that they, “Really enjoyed my interactions with them on Twitter, and that’s what inspired them to reach out.” Proof that all of that retweeting, liking, and replying like a crazy person really pays off in the end.
As if all of that wasn’t enough to convince you, remember that your reputation as a freelancer lives online as well. And, when you’re trying to promote yourself as someone who can literally spread the word for a living, it’s important that you show you’re engaged on one of the most popular social media platforms that exists (we’re talkin’ 320 million people with Twitter accounts, by the way).
Please notice that I used the word “decent-sized”, and not “large”. Because, honestly, I don’t believe that you need thousands of followers to make an impact on the platform. And, as with anything, it’s better to have an engaged audience than a humongous (yet totally detached) audience.
So, if I don’t think that numbers matter, why am I sitting here claiming that you should still strive to build a decent following? Well, there are a few reasons:
Alright, you get it. Now you’re left with the big, meaty question: How exactly do you go about growing your Twitter following as a freelance writer and reaping all of those awesome benefits we just touched on? I have a few tips to get you goin’ in the right direction.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Would you invite people to a party that doesn’t exist? Probably not. Similarly, you can’t expect people to flock to your Twitter account if you aren’t actually sharing anything.
You need to plan to tweet—and tweet often. Five tweets per day is a good aim to set for yourself in terms of engagement. I love using Buffer to queue up a bunch of tweets to go out throughout the week—I typically stock it up every Sunday afternoon.
What should you tweet about? Well, your niche is a good place to start. As a freelance writer who focuses mainly on career and self-development advice, this means that the majority of my tweets consist of:
Regardless of your chosen niche, you could do something similar. The important thing to remember is that your Twitter account is part of your overall brand as a freelance writer. So, you want it to fit with that.
Interaction on Twitter is key to growing your audience—as it increases your chances of getting seen outside of just your own followers.
I retweet or reply to tweets I find interesting. And, I “like” (and occasionally retweet) every single tweet that I’m tagged in (along as it’s positive, of course)—which is typically someone sharing an article I wrote (like the below example).
Don’t be afraid to use Twitter to reach out to brands, publications, or people you’re interested in either. If I’m eager to write for a certain brand, I’ll go ahead and put out a tweet saying how much I loved their recent blog post (making sure to tag them in it), for example. It’s a great way to get a conversation rolling and develop a little bit of name recognition.
Remember, Twitter is ultimately a social network. So, you want to make sure you’re holding up the “social” end of the deal.
Your website, your business cards, your LinkedIn profile. If you want to use Twitter as a key part of your brand as a freelance writer, don’t be afraid to promote it everywhere.
Another great thing you can do is try to work your Twitter handle into some of your published work. Many outlets have their social share buttons setup in a way that will mention your Twitter handle whenever your article is shared—meaning you can see who’s reading and then distributing your work.
Even if that option isn’t available (don’t be afraid to ask your client or that particular publication, by the way!), there are still some natural ways to work your Twitter account into your article. In pieces that are more opinion-based, I like to include a bottom blurb that says something like, “Have you given [thing] a try? Tweet me and let me know!”, where the words “tweet me” are linked to my Twitter account.
This gives people who find and enjoy your work (hey, these are people you’ll want to continue interacting with!) an easy way to connect with you when they’re done reading.
Some people subscribe to an unwritten Twitter etiquette rule that you should follow everybody who follows you. And, yes, that can be a decent way to grow your following (although, full disclosure, you typically end up with a bunch of people who will only unfollow you soon after).
While I used to follow everybody back, I don’t anymore—instead, I only follow accounts that actually interest me. But, that doesn’t mean I skip out on growing my audience. Using the above strategies has allowed me to grow my Twitter account as a freelance writer without having to mindlessly follow everybody under the sun.
Give ’em a try yourself, and prepare to grow your audience and elevate your brand as a writer. Good luck!