Writing for print isn't just about writing for print.
What I mean by that is this--you have to promote yourself and your work if you expect to make a dent in the print publication market. These days, a big part of this has to do with social media.
Social media may seem like a strange thing to think of in terms of self-promotion--especially if you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet. Even if you have--using it to your full advantage can take time and effort.
Let me ask you this...do you know how to get more work in print by using social media?
That's what we are going to deal with today.
First of all--and this is huge--social media isn't just about you and your agenda. It's about doing for others and developing relationships with people. In other words, if you are constantly just promoting yourself and your work, you might as well pass on using it at all as a tool. People will tune you out.
Take an interest in the conversations going on out there in the field. What are some of the "hot" issues? It pays off to do a little bit of listening before you jump in with both feet. See who's talking, what they are talking about and why. When you have a feel for things, then start to connect a bit.
Here are some social media tips for promoting yourself on the web--without annoying others:
Do feel free to talk about what you are working on now. Just keep it professional and brief. This can be a great way for people on social media to get a feel for what you write about and the types of projects you take on.
Do build relationships with people who are influential. Magazine editors and other people in print have Twitter accounts and nearly everyone has a Facebook presence of some sort these days. Add some people and pages each week and do a little legwork to make sure your network is reaching out to those who could give you an assignment or help you find work. It pays off.
Do post helpful information, such as links to great websites, videos or podcasts that you have found interesting or useful. It's a great way to build goodwill.
Do your best to be polite. Thank those that follow you, re-tweet you or comment on your Facebook page or blog.
Do try to have conversations with others on social media when you have time. Let them get to know you a bit. The personal touch makes such a big difference.
Do post things regularly and keep up on your account.
Now, here are some things you will want to avoid doing:
Don't be overly self-promotional. Think about how you feel when others are constantly Tweeting or posting about themselves. It's irritating. Some promotional posts are fine--just make sure you mix them in with other things.
Don't ask for work. Think of it this way--you wouldn't just walk up to some editor that you never met before on the street and ask him/her for an assignment, right? The same guidelines apply here.
Don't underestimate the power of commenting on things you like on Facebook or re-tweeting content you enjoy on Twitter. (Commenting on blogs counts too.) It might not get you a job immediately, but it can get you on the radar for a particular editor/publication.
Don't mix business with pleasure. If you want to use social media to promote yourself and your work--don't get too personal on the account. Finding the right balance is key. Think of it this way--when you tweet, imagine the editor for your dream assignment is reading it. If you wouldn't say it to them directly, don't post it.
This isn't an all-in-one primer on social media, but I'm here to tell you that I've gotten work - paying work in print - from having social media accounts and being active on them. Yes, it takes time, but you have to promote yourself anyway, and this is a great way to do it. I would suggest the following "big three" for those who are looking to break into print, or get more assignments from magazines:
Twitter is powerful. You can directly connect with magazine editors and those in the print field in a way you never were able to before. Build your network slowly and listen before you jump in. Include a web address so people can find you if they want to get in touch.
You'll need to decide how to handle this--if you want to use your "personal" page for business, or create a page for your writing presence. It's up to you...just make sure to keep it professional. Make sure you include some information about your background and experience, as well as a way for people to contact you.
Many people consider this a "resume" site. It's a great professional resource, and you can also join related industry groups on this site. Make sure you complete your profile, and try to gather some professional recommendations so you can showcase yourself in the best light possible.
Have you gotten work through social media? If so, I'd love to hear about it!