How to Use (and Not Use) Twitter to Find Freelance Writing Jobs

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on March 9, 2011 in Freelance Writing Jobs, Marketing
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I made the mistake on Twitter yesterday of searching for "freelance writing" to see what people in the community were talking about. Wow. Just wow. I can't remember the last time I saw so much spam and so many crap freelance writing jobs in one place. So it got me thinking about finding jobs on Twitter -- more specifically finding good freelance writing jobs while avoiding the sludge.

Here are a few tips I came up with:

  1. If you receive an @reply from someone you don't know and they link you to job sites, don't click. -- These are usually spam. If you visit the user's profile page you'll find they do almost nothing but post the same self-promotional message over and over again to get people to their new job site or to a site where they have an affiliate link (and therefore get paid when you visit). When I get these messages, I don't look for gigs. I report them as the spammers they are. And you have to be extra careful about clicking shortened links from people you don't know in general there. You never know when they lead to a malicious site.
  2. If you plan to use Twitter search, get specific. -- Don't search for "freelance writing" or "freelance writing jobs." You'll find a lot of spam and countless low paying writing gigs. Search in a specialty area instead to weed out some of the garbage.
  3. Ask your network for referrals. -- A quick mention that you're available for new projects and open to new referrals won't hurt anyone. And you never know who might see it and have a relevant gig for you.
  4. Check your feed. -- See what your followers are saying. I have a particular client who frequently needs writers in niches I don't cover. I usually offer to tweet to my network if I don't know a specific writer to refer in that area. Pay attention to colleagues at a similar level and you'll find decent gigs mentioned as opposed to low-balled offers from every Tom, Dick and Harry on Twitter.
  5. Edit your profile. -- Is your Twitter profile too general? Does it make it clear that you're a freelance writer? Is there a call to action for people to contact you if they want to hire you? If you only use Twitter for personal networking, that's one thing. But if you use it for business networking as a freelance writer, you need to make sure your profile works for you. Include your name, URL to your professional site (either in the URL field or the profile background), and let people know what you specialize in. Getting the good gigs is about visibility and networking much more than stumbling across ads, on Twitter or anywhere else.

How do you use Twitter as a freelance writer? Do you actively look for freelance writing jobs there? Have you gotten referrals through Twitter? Share your own tips and stories in the comments below.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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9 Comments

  1. Lori March 9, 2011 Reply

    I’ve been seeing similar things, Jenn. The spam is off the charts some days.

    Can’t emphasize enough that if you’re asking for referrals, keep it quick, as you say. And for gawd’s sake, don’t tweet it twelve times a day! Once. That’s all I tweet it. I can’t stand seeing someone asking more than twice in a week for work – it starts to feel like begging. No way I want to leave the impression that I’m desperate for work, even if I were!

  2. Cathy Miller March 9, 2011 Reply

    I admit I am not great at using Twitter for finding writing jobs. I think because there is so much garbage to wade through, I gave up, rather than develop more effective search means. It’s on my list of To Dos to become more efficient at using the marketing aspect of Twitter, so I appreciate all the good tips.

  3. Jake P March 9, 2011 Reply

    Jenn, Lori, it seems like the spam in the Twitter feed and in the follow requests comes in waves. Recently, it’s been pretty quiet, though maybe that’s because I haven’t been on much in the last two weeks. I still can’t get it to “stick” on “New Twitter,” which is an irritating glitch. (Though JM, I know your feelings on NT!)

    Cathy, I’ll go you one better and admit I’ve *never* used it to find jobs. For me, it’s purely a virtual water cooler — see what people are talking/whining/raving about, and engage in a little bit of collegial banter.

    • Cathy Miller March 9, 2011 Reply

      Jake-I’m not sure that I would even qualify my feeble attempts as looking for jobs. :-) It gets my attention deficit marketing approach. And I’m still on the old format-not because I have strong feelings one way or the other on the new format. It’s just that it’s waaaay down on my list of priorities – or I maybe I am too lazy – yeah, probably that. :-)

    • Jennifer Mattern March 10, 2011 Reply

      It’s always there when I attempt to search, but then again I don’t search there often. I don’t get too much in my actual feed thankfully. A couple in replies at most. I tend to get even more of that spam from marketers in other areas — god forbid you ever mention Web hosting; be prepared for the onslaught.

      I can’t say I personally use Twitter to find gigs either. But I pass a fair number of them around to other writers either publicly or via DM (2 days ago most recently). I like the virtual water cooler description. That’s a good way to put it. I try to focus more on the networking side. The people I connect with there do send referrals, so in that sense I get gigs from Twitter even though I don’t actively “find” them there. But it’s more about the conversation for me. I look at it as a way to give readers a chance to get me a bit more on the personal side while promoting my blogs and the work of colleagues when I see something I really like there.

  4. Lucy Smith March 9, 2011 Reply

    I did make a brief foray into trying Twitter for marketing, but, like everyone else, I found there was so much crap I may as well have been looking at Craigslist. I do find it’s good for keeping in contact with prospects, though, as well as being a virtual water cooler (love that!).

  5. Carol Tice March 9, 2011 Reply

    Having your writer key words in your profile is important.

    I mostly use Twitter to find sources for stories, rather than gigs…but if you had the right follower base it could probably work for job-finding too. Doing searches for key words I think is a great way to troll for people who might need a writer.

    And yeah, those auto-follow job link people are all spammers…must block!

    • Jennifer Mattern March 10, 2011 Reply

      That’s another good option — looking for your target market via keywords even if they’re not actively soliciting writers. Good tip Carol!

  6. Jennifer L March 14, 2011 Reply

    I haven’t used Twitter to look for new freelance writing gigs either, although I’ve been tempted. But every so often, I just mention “freelance writing” or something similar, and I get spam just from that. I’d hate to find out what happens if I started actually soliciting job offers.

    Perhaps I just need to be more careful, as you’ve advised. I think I need to get better about using the right hashtags, too.

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