I tweet! (Though not very often.) I never tweet what I had for breakfast or what adorable new thing my puppy has done. I tweet new blog posts, freelance writing jobs I’ve stumbled across, or articles of interest. I use Twitter for two reasons: networking and finding writing jobs. As far as online job-finding resources go, Twitter is last on the list. However, when used correctly, Twitter can be a valuable resource for writers.
A lot of people wrinkle their nose at Twitter, and I can understand their reasoning. I blame the nose-wrinkling mainly on Ashton Kutcher and Lindsay Lohan. Yes, many people use Twitter to post inane rants or personal tidbits about themselves. They use it the same way they would use Facebook or MySpace. You can avoid these people by simply not following them. If you want to use Twitter as a writing resource, here are some things to know:
1) Unlike Facebook, the people you “follow” are not your friends. And the people who follow you are probably people you’ve never met. Writers should treat Twitter more like LinkedIn than Facebook. Follow people who have similar interests: freelance writers, authors, publishing houses, media outlets, small presses, and writing job sites.
2) Don’t clog up your Twitter account following someone just because they followed you. Be discerning. Use Twitter for: 1) networking opportunities, 2) marketing your own skills and writing, and 3) finding writing jobs/ contests/ writing resources. I generally “unfollow” people who post dozens of tweets in one day. They clog up my feed.
3) Don’t obsess over how many followers you have. If you offer something to the Twitter community, the followers will come. (The old Field of Dreams mantra…)
If you’re new to Twitter, you’ll want to learn the basics, like what a “tweet” is, what a “mention” is, etc. Then, you’ll want to start tweeting and following. Browsing people and places to follow can be a lot of fun. I follow Margaret Atwood! I am privy to Margaret Atwood’s thoughts on writing!
You may get a little too excited and follow hundreds upon hundreds of people. How to keep up with all of those tweets? You probably can’t, but I’ve found that making lists is extremely helpful. I have divided the people and places I follow into lists: publishers, freelance writers, writing jobs, friends, people from my city, literary journals, bloggers, and authors. Simply click on your list to weed out irrevelant tweets.
Twitter is really made for people who have “smart phones.” I don’t. Therefore, I probably don’t get the most out of my Twitter experience. (For instance, I rarely see a job posted the instant it is posted- I’m hours or days behind.) That being said, I have gotten several freelance writing jobs off of Twitter. How? By following these guys (to name a few- they post new writing jobs all day long!):
As soon as you start following, Twitter will start suggesting other people to follow. It can get addicting. The trick to using Twitter is to limit your time to advancing your career, and not wasting time finding out what people thought of Christina Aguilera’s Superbowl fumble last evening.
Considering giving Twitter a try? Here’s some additional information:
Have any of you ever used Twitter OR another social networking site as a writing resource?