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.