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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.