What's Up with This Trend: Freelance Writers as Social Networkers

The other day I had a conversation with an old coworker and I was trying to encourage him to start a social networking business. This friend is not a writer but he is a fun, smart and witty conversationalist who understands the corporate world and the PR concerns of a company which makes him, in my opinion, perfect for social networking.

This made me start thinking about how many writers (including myself) have tried to get into the social networking business as a way to expand our services and gain more clients along with crisp, stinky dollars.

The problem with this trend of freelance writers as social networking savants is that not all of them are good at it. In fact, some of them (and I'm not necessarily excluding myself here) downright suck.

You may be able to write an amazing article in your genre but that talent does not necessarily translate into social networking savvy and personally, I think many of the writers could actually be hurting their client's chances for social media success.

Don't get me wrong, I've known several writers who've transitioned to social networking with amazing results. Mostly because they understand that they need to build community, conversation and trust for the brand they represent. But some writers I've spoken to think that just being able to write witty Tweets and hit the "follow" button mean they are media mavens. This is not so.

Take a minute to read this blog post by social media strategist Amber Naslund. I'm not an expert, but her article brings up many important points that I think freelance writers are forgetting when they attempt to add this service to their roster.

Remember, true social networking for a client means a lot more than just building up a Twitter following and sending a few Tweets after you write a blog post. Social networking requires that you step into the role of brand representative completely and that you tweak your style to meet the needs of the brand, that you start the right conversations with the right people, and that you are experienced enough to know who those "right people" are for the brand. It also means that you have a plan for community building that is multi-faceted and created with the goal of building business, trust, and community support.

Great spelling is not your only goal.

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Yolander Prinzel is the profit monster behind the Profitable Freelancer website. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express, Covestor.com, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is currently available on Amazon.

10 thoughts on “What's Up with This Trend: Freelance Writers as Social Networkers”

  1. I think social media is still in that grey area between marketing and writing. It mixes both skill sets, but they are not interchangeable. Not all marketers are good writers, and not all writers are good bran representatives, as you point out. I think people tend to link them together in a way that doesn’t always work. When it does work, however, the results can be amazing. Finding someone who knows how to write well and can engage a community is a great find for any company.

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    • Agreed. Writing skill is definitely necessary–but I’ve seen too many people who think that’s ALL they need. As you said, writing skill must be linked to marketing skill for that task.

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  2. Hi Yolander, I’m David Farrell and as a current laborer in content mills, I have enjoyed reading your reviews on the different content mills. Your articles (as well as those by other authors here, but yours focus directly on reviewing different content mills) have given me a lot of insight about writing. I definately agree with you about most mills being not worth my time; for example it would take ten years for me to average a per-hour rate from AC work that would mean something.

    There is one site I write for mostly, Examiner.com; they pay me better than some of the other mills even though it is performance only. I am wondering if Examiner.com is one of the content sites you plan to do a review on, and if so, I look forwards to reading it.

    I want to say thanks to Jenn and all of you for this resource; I will be spending a lot of time on this blog reading and learning.

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the series! This summer I got caught up in a flurry of client projects and have been unable to continue with the content site series. As you can imagine, applying for a position, writing, and giving everythign enough time to get some idea of its success level is pretty time consuming.

      Examiner is on my list when I can get back to it as well as Hubpages, BrightHub, and Helium.

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      • Also, while my site reviews can certainly help you evaluate whether a certain marketplace is right for you or not, they won’t help you find better paying work, so make sure you read all the articles by the other writers which WILL help you 🙂

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        • Definately. I have been reading as much as possible and this blog is one of the few resources that points me to something better. I forget who said it here, but because the good writing gigs aren’t often advertised, I hadn’t been able to find them. This blog has made me rethink my process of seeking writing work/oppurtunities. If you ever want feedback regarding how Examiner worked for me, feel free to ask me. Thanks again for everything you all do here.

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  3. I considered pitching for some of those kinds of gigs, but, ultimately, I want to be myself on a social networking site and say what I have to say, not shill for someone else. I’ve landed some sweet gigs because people liked the way I said what I had to say, and I was just being in the moment, not trying to push someone else’s brand. That lead to article, short story, and business writing gigs rather than social networking for someone else.

    If a writer can land a well-paid gig and enjoys social networking for someone else’s brand, good for them — it’s a very specific skill. But I hope not too many are doing it for a pittance. It’s a skill that deserves a decent wage.

    And also, to me, it’s important that I know if someone is being paid to push a brand — if they pretend they like it because they like it and I find out they’re being paid, I no longer trust anything they have to say. If I know they’re being paid, I can factor that in to my comment filtering.

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    • Totally agree. If they’re pushing a brand in public, they’ve lost objectivity. At that point, they’re not journalists or even writers – theyr’e paid mouthpieces.

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  4. To me, this sounds like a case of stick with what you know/ stay in your own lane, etc. By all means, I agree that if you’re a freelance writer and good at social media networking, add it to your bag of tricks. However, I too think you should not simply do it for the money. You could easily be jeopardizing your client’s reputation (not to mention your own).

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  5. I know some writers who are fantastic wordsmiths but can suck the life out of the most raucous party. They’re socially inept, as was the case with one guy who wrote beautiful articles, but couldn’t interview a source without insulting and causing a firestorm of controversy (the sources were sometimes our magazine’s advertisers).

    It amazes me how many writers think “I’ll join Twitter!” in an attempt to market, yet they post things like “Buy my book” or “Read my blog” and never interact with anyone beyond that. You’re right, per usual. Don’t go there if you don’t want to do the basic legwork.

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