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How To Expand Your Freelance Writing Business By Networking With Other Writers

I'm naturally a bit of a reclusive person.  I enjoy working with others and socialising with groups of friends, but I tend to find that if I can do something by myself rather than with others, I generally will.

Since being a freelance writer, however, one of the most important points I've learnt  is that networking with other writers is key to developing your writing business.

When I first started writing, I thought I could do it all myself.  Getting involved in a few different conversations but generally staying in the background, I believed that I could learn from others and develop my freelance writing career all by myself, without speaking regularly to other writers.

I soon realised that this wasn't exactly the best idea.  I started to get more involved with other writers and without giving you the blow-by-blow account of what happened next, everything basically snowballed from there.

The following five methods all ways that I used to start expanding and developing my freelance writing business by networking with others and although there are other methods you can utilize, these five are the ones that I believe are the most useful.

  1. Become a regular on the freelance writing blogs - the very first thing I did when I realised networking was the way forward was to start commenting on five or six of the main freelance writing blogs.

    I love rock and metal music and offline, whether I go to see a local band playing a small gig in a bar or a famous band performing to several thousand people at the city hall, the same people are always there enjoying the music.  They're all welcoming, friendly and through them I've met some great people who I've learnt a lot about rock and metal music from.

    Exactly the same thing can be said about becoming a regular on freelance writing blogs.  You soon realise that whether it's a major blog or somewhat of an underground one, the same people frequent them - with the vast majority of them being friendly and welcoming - and even within just a few days of commenting, you'll learn something that you didn't know previously.

  2. Use Twitter - I.  Am.  In.  Love.  With.  Twitter.  I started using it properly a few months back but only used to tweet about completely random stuff, not quite "getting it".

    Whilst I still make my fair share of random tweets (Yo - the beard FTW!), I've come to realise Twitter is arguably one of the most important weapons a freelance writer can have in their arsenal.

    Not only does it allow you to keep in touch with hundreds of writers at once, but I've seen a ton of useful information flying about, from posts which have helped develop me as a writer to actual job postings being tweeted - not the $0.05 per word ones, either.

  3. And LinkedIn - I've talked before about how much of a great tool I think LinkedIn is and I seriously recommend that if you're a writer and don't have an account, you need to go get one now.

    LinkedIn is the ultimate networking tool.  It allows you to keep in contact with people you've worked with in the past, gain recommendations from them and keep up-to-date with what they're doing now.

    Aside from the recommendations, one of the most useful parts of LinkedIn is that people can update their status just like on Twitter or Facebook.  Unlike Twitter or Facebook, however, the updates tend to be a lot more business orientated and I've seen bucket loads of job opportunities being advertised on here from other writers.

  4. E-mail freelance writers directly - just a bit of a disclaimer / word of warning first.  Do not just randomly contact freelance writers asking for work or general questions about becoming a freelance writer.  This will do nothing but get people's backs up.

    Instead, if you've got a question that you feel a specific freelance writer could help you out on, don't be afraid to contact them.  Like I mentioned above, the vast majority of freelance writers that I've come into contact with are really friendly and extremely helpful people.

    Although you shouldn't just randomly e-mail other writers, don't underestimate how far a bit of one-on-one contact can get you - some of my highest paying gigs have developed from questions (not queries, just a question I had) that I've e-mailed to writers directly.

  5. Write comment / discussion-worthy blog posts - whilst commenting on writer's blogs is a great way to network with other writers, it's important that you also create posts on your own blog that will incite comments and discussions.

    For an example of someone who is doing this spot on at the minute, take a look at Stacey Abler, the writer who Jenn is coaching.  I've not only seen Stacey actively participate in several discussions on other blogs, but she has also been writing posts on her own blog which are written so that they naturally start a discussion amongst writers.

Whether you've been a freelance writer for a few weeks or a few years, it's imperative that you understand the importance of networking with other writers.  Just like in most other professions, whilst you can read as many resources on the industry as you can manage, it's learning from others that really helps you progress.

11 thoughts on “How To Expand Your Freelance Writing Business By Networking With Other Writers”

  1. Thanks for the mention!

    Have you found it to be useful to participate in the groups on LinkedIn or to post answers in the questions section?

    Reply
    • I use LI, but not nearly as actively as I should. I have gotten a good bit of traffic from their Q&As though — not from my own answers, but from those of colleagues who include links to my posts on various topics. Not sure if it would be quite as effective if the links could be construed as self-promotional as opposed to honest recommendations from a third party, but there’s definitely traffic coming through the links there.

      Reply
    • I was toying with whether to mention about answering questions because I try to write about tools (or aspects of tools) that I’ve used myself and although I’m desperately trying to find the time to use this part of LinkedIn, I haven’t got round to doing so yet.

      Saying that, I know quite a few techies (designers / programmers) who use it regularly and who have reported some really good traffic from it.

      I’m not sure whether the time spent utilizing this part of LinkedIn could be better used elsewhere for writers, but from the reports I’ve had from those outside of the freelance writing circle, it seems to pay off relatively well.

      Reply
  2. LinkedIn is my most productive social media platform for gigs. I have a niche in healthcare-employee benefits-insurance-wellness-so, I have joined several groups in those specialties.

    I have not posted very many questions. I find more value in answering questions or joining discussions. I rarely insert links to specific posts of mine-exactly for the reason Jenn mentions- thinking it may be too promotional.

    I only provide links if I really think it would be helpful. For example, yesterday I did a post on the new consumer healthcare website the government launched, There was a discussion in a healthcare reform group asking what we thought of it, so I included my link.

    Let me ask this – I worry that I might spend too much time with fellow writers on blogs instead of targeting my niche. Don’t get me wring, I find my fellow writers, like AFW and Jenn extremely helpful for their experience and tips, but hould I be spending more time on industry blogs?

    I can’t remember who said it, but early in my freelancing, I remember someone suggesting that you don’t hang out with fellow writers because it wouldn’t get you business. I don’t totally agree with that, but would be interested in your thoughts for balancing?

    Reply
    • For me it depends on the platform. Let’s take LinkedIn as an example. I don’t generally approve writers as friends on my LinkedIn account and I don’t often take part in writing discussions because it is a place that I network for clients. On Twitter, I have two different accounts–one for clients that is open for all to read and one small account only for writer friends that is locked to the public. Again, I don’t like to send out writer friend tweets on an account that could be read by potential clients, and my writer friends don;t care about my biz stuff, so I find 2 accounts useful.

      When it comes to blogs, I only go to writing blogs and do no business networking on industry blogs. I’m not saying that’s the “right” way to handle things, but I can’t see commenting on a blog post within the industry as a strategy to getting a gig. I do, however, guest post on blogs that my potential clients might read.

      Reply
      • Now see-this is why I visit other writers’ blogs-good advice! 🙂

        I am like you, Yo, in that I use LinkedIn mostly for client networking. I don’t go as far as not approving links with writers, although I’m not hooked up with very many on LinkedIn.

        I am in one writers’ group that I use pretty much like I do with the writers’ blogs-sharing and for my own education. I get a summary so I only visit if something catches my interest.

        I never thought about two accounts for Twitter. Those I follow are mostly from the freelance and writing side. I have just a handful of clients on Twitter (that I follow & who follow me). I’m still trying to figure out the business side of Twitter.

        Thanks for some great ideas, Yo.

        Reply
    • I honestly think that no matter where you are in your writing career, you can never hang around with other writers too much.

      I’m a firm believer that you can always learn, irrelevant of your age or experience and having worked in a vocational training and development environment for several years, I’ve found that by being more hands on and shadowing and learning from others as much as possible, you can achieve a lot more than if you were working alone.

      Look at it as if it were two freelance plumbers.

      One of them works by themselves for the majority of the time, meeting up with other plumbers maybe once every few months. Rather than discuss new tools and techniques, they’d prefer to spend their time promoting their own services. Understandable.

      The other plumber, though, holds a monthly meeting for all tradespeople in the local area so that they can come together and have a chat about the industry.

      As the first plumber has decided to promote their services directly and prefers to move only in their circle of plumber friends, they do not have the opportunity to network with others, who although may not be able to have a direct impact on their workload themselves, can be extremely useful.

      Not only are these contacts great ways to ensure the plumber’s name gets known to a wider audience, but it also provides the other people with a name that they can pass work onto should they not be able to do it themselves.

      Don’t get me wrong, Carol – I think all writers should spend time developing their presence in their own niche. It’s just that I believe by mixing with a broad spectrum of people, you can do your business a hell of a lot of good. Apart from anything, your workload may generally start to diversify – something which is extremely important, as it ensures that a writer is as successful as they can be.

      Reply
      • Hi Dan:

        I promise not to take you to task for calling me Carol, instead of Cathy–LOL!!! I guess I need to get better known. 😀

        I value my time with my writer buddies & I, too, subscribe to the theory that you can always learn something new. After all, isn’t that what keeps life interesting?

        I guess a more accurate expression of my musings should have been that I am not spending enough time in networking for clients-rather than too much time with my writing buddies.

        It’s the old time management and targeting effectively dilemma.

        P.S. Love the plumber analogy.

        Reply
        • Argh, so sorry Cathy. It’s midnight here and I’m feeling the after effects of a long day – I read and re-read your post to make sure I hadn’t missed anything from my reply and completely forgot to check I’d addressed you properly in it.

          Apologies!

          I think the one thing I would say is that as a freelance writer, mixing with writer friends is different with mixing with your normal friends. No matter how much you might not be talking about work with a writer friend, you’re always networking with them to some extent.

          Yeah, it’s always beneficial to focus on networking for clients, but you should never regret or worry about talking with other writers – it’s all part of developing and expanding as a writer.

          And re learning to keep life interesting – you only get one shot at life, so I never see the point of just bobbing along. Even when I’ve felt like I wasn’t doing much career wise, I’ve always been learning something. Always!

          Reply
          • No worries, Dan-just yanking your chain! 😉 You’ll notice I make plenty of errors-and again, isn’t that what makes life interesting?

            I like your life philosophy-very positive outlook & that’s so much more fun than negativity.

            Have a great evening…or morning…or whatever time it is where you are! 🙂

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