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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tips from Freelancing Experts, Take #2: Start Tweeting!

As a freelancer, you've got to be able to network and create relationships. You already know that. Fortunately there's this thing called social media (you've heard of it, right?) to help you do so. Using it can help you develop relationships and get assignments from editors and clients you haven't worked with before. 

So tip #2 from last week's ASJA board member panels in Chicago is to get social-media-savvy. Specifically, get on Twitter, recommends ASJA board member Randy Dotinga, who writes stories, blog posts and book reviews for The Christian Science Monitor and a daily email newsletter for Voice of San Diego (a leading non-profit investigative news organization). He's nabbed numerous assignments from actively participating on Twitter. "Find people who are like you in the writing business, and follow them," says Dotinga. "If you write about science or the environment or health, look for writers and editors who cover those subjects and follow them...and use Twitter to promote yourself as a freelancer." Twitter has helped him make "warm calls" to new clients and editors because they "know" him from his Tweets. 

He also suggests that new writers consider smaller-scale publications in addition to national ones. "Think about local publications, alternative weeklies, nonprofit organizations, and news collectives," says Dotinga. They are often overlooked by freelancers and can be a good source of work. By following people in your area "who know what's going on," you're also likely to find story ideas you can spin into pitches. 

Bottom line? "Use social media," says Dotinga. "Use it to market yourself, promote yourself, and promote your work." 

**Readers, what about you? Are you using Twitter to build your freelance business? Has it helped you get work? If so, share your stories here!