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Grow your audience and impact with social media

For any freelancer, social media matters. Social media can feel incredibly intimidating, and a lot of creatives feel like it’s essentially competing for “likes.” But social media can also help editors find you easier as well as help you expand your audience and build community with other creatives. So instead of feeling like a sell-out for developing a social media presence, think of it as building a village. A village that will inspire and amplify your work, lead you to opportunity and make freelancing more lucrative. 

We covered what pitches should look and what editors are looking for. But besides reviewing your ideas and how you present them, editors are also going to want to know how relevant your voice is. Think about it — would you want to write for a publication that you couldn’t find anywhere online? That didn’t have a social media presence? Whose founders and contributors were nameless or impossible to learn about? Nope. 

Developing an online presence allows publications to learn just as much about you as you want to know about them.

So, if your pitch catches an editor's eye, the very next thing they’re going to do is look you up. They may do this by going directly to Google or they might search on the social media platform that feels most relevant to them — either Twitter, TikTok or Instagram. Either way, the results feed into your SEO relevance. You don’t have to be famous or have a ton of followers to have SEO relevance, the goal is for the information people see when they look you up to reflect your goals as a freelancer. If you want to land bylines and create freelance income, you have to step out into the world and say, “hello.”

Google yourself from an incognito browser window and see what comes up. Check to see if the following things can be found:

  • Your name and city.

  • That you’re a freelance writer.

  • A few pieces you’ve written.

  • At least one social media page.

Adding these details to your social media profile is pretty easy. Just navigate to your profile and select the “edit profile” option. Update your location or add it to a simple bio, i.e., “Brooklyn-based writer and editor.”

The thought of managing multiple social media accounts may seem overwhelming. I have good news: you don’t have to choose them all. But, as writers, Twitter and Instagram are pretty standard. We’ll get into the specific benefits of those platforms in the next chapters, for now let’s dig into the ways social media can be less of a burden and more of a tool. 

If you’ve only been a passive user of social media, bringing intention to your timeline will require a bit of an overhaul. But it’s important that if you’re going to spend time scrolling, it’s worth your time and effort. I like to see creators on my timeline, people I might want to tap for an interview or profile, or whose work I want to keep up with. 

For me, this includes writers, editors, publications, artists and founders as well as hashtags that intersect with topics I write about. The most important content we can share on any social media platform is content we want to write about. For example, on Instagram, I follow #blkcreatives because that hashtag is used by a lot of creators who look like me, people I want to support, connect with, amplify and stay curious about. 

This might sound harsh, but the flipside is, I suppress content that does not fit into these categories. Yes, that means I’ve muted aunties, folks I went to school with, and anyone who just posts selfies and photos of their food (sorry). If you like to keep up with friends and family on social media, start a separate account to use to grow your writing audience and keep the other one private to use it exclusively for your beloved familial followers. 

Take some time and do a social media sweep. Unfollow or mute accounts that are less of an inspiration and more of a distraction. Follow publications you want to write for, writers you admire, search different hashtags to see if any bring up interesting content and follow a few of them. 

Let’s review:

  • You’re aware of your SEO presence and what people see when they look you up.

  • You have set your social media profiles up to support the writing and community building you want to do.

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