How Many Connections Have You Made As A New Freelance Writer?

Networking 300x225 How Many Connections Have You Made As A New Freelance Writer?

In my opinion, networking is one of the most vital components to becoming a successful freelance writer.

At the start of my freelance writing career, I was a lurker. I spent hours reading blogs on how to be a freelance writer, finding out as much information as I could to help me take my hobby to a stage where I could start earning money.

I was a regular reader of this blog and spent most nights for several weeks going through the content produced since it started (thanks Sharon!).

I did the same on several other blogs, too. I learnt a lot and it was fantastic.  It got to the point where I felt like I was developing some great relationships with the owners of the blogs.

The problem was, I wasn’t. I was spending hours every evening reading all of the content, but I wasn’t interacting in any way. No comments. No e-mails. No retweets. No Facebook likes. Absolutely nothing.

And the simple fact is, I honestly believe this hampered how quickly I developed as a freelance writer.

I’ve said it what seems like a billion times before, but the freelance writing community is one of the friendliest out there – but I didn’t truly realise this until I started commenting on blog posts. Always quite an independent person, I think I thought I would be able to read all of the information available, go away and become a successful freelance writer.

Although most probably a possibility, by doing this you miss, in my opinion, one of the most vital components of being a successful freelance writer – having a great network of colleagues.

My very first freelance writing gig was gained through an application, but almost every gig after that has been via recommendations and networking. It might sound a little far fetched to some, but it’s true – there aren’t many gigs that I’ve secured over the last few years that haven’t been as a result of my professional relationships.

And although I didn’t really think much of it at the time, these relationships all stem from commenting on blogs, e-mailing a few writers directly and generally engaging and interacting with them as much as I possibly could.

Getting connections and building relationships is not something you can do quickly or even easily, yet it’s something that I really do believe is a necessity. Particularly when you’re first starting out, but also when you’re becoming established. You don’t want to build relationships and then just let them suffer when you start earning. Apart from anything, it’s really poor manners.

When you’re first becoming established in the industry, don’t be backwards about coming forwards.  Start commenting on blog posts regularly and get your name out there.  E-mail writers directly, too – some of the most valued relationships I now have are a result of e-mailing writers and asking for advice, support or to simply introduce myself.

Becoming a successful freelance writer is not just about reading the information that’s available.  It’s about understanding how the whole industry works – and the best way to find this out is to speak to the people who are already succeeding.

About Dan Smith

Dan Smith is a seasoned freelance writer, currently working as the SEO Specialist for digital media agency Zine.  With a strong focus on developing strategies that are based heavily on high quality content, Dan always has one eye on the customer experience and has a distinct (dis)ability of being unable to say no.

Comments

  1. I’ve been trying to work up a network since arriving in Canada and finding myself more reliant on my writing for income. It is a struggle, but social media helps. Thanks to G+ I’ve picked up at least one editing job, and spreading news of other people’s books, projects and businesses has made them more receptive to spreading my news.
    I’m sure there’s a tipping point, where the amount of work you put in to networking is suddenly outpaced by the results, but the length of time before you reach that tipping point is hard to predict. I’m still working on it! But the good news is that networking is a social activity, unlike writing, and can be a real compensation for the loneliness of the profession – unless you’re an investigative writer who spends their time interviewing and travelling!
    Great article, thanks for sharing it.
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    • Glad you enjoyed the piece, Damian and great to hear you found success though Google +!

      What I’ve personally found with networking is that you don’t actually stop or reduce how much you do – you just become more efficient at it.

  2. I’ve recently started to focus more on freelance writing and have started to network a little bit. I’ll be honest though, it doesn’t come easy to me. I’m having to step out of my comfort zones. Even commenting on an article is a first for me. I tend to lurk. Thanks Dan for pushing me to ramp up my networking.

    @Damian Trasler: How did you pick up a job on G+? I’ve started to actually use the site recently and see the potential, but feel stymied at the same time.

    • Great to hear you’re starting to network, Steve. I don’t think there are many people who are naturals at networking, so you’re definitely not in a boat by yourself there!

      It does get easier, though. Stick at it and you’ll find in a few weeks that you start seeing the same faces around – and that helps massively.

  3. Great article. I’ve always had a passionate love affair with writing. Meaning I did it in journals and the dark recesses of my laptop, but never thought of it as something that could be lucrative. I did the old grind of going to work, but it wasn’t until I quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom that I thought about making writing a career.
    Working on novel drafts can be all consuming for me, so they can get neglected between my husband and two kids. Then I discovered blogging as well as the possibilities of freelance writing and copywriting. I very badly want to be a writer no matter what it takes though a clear cut path isn’t visible at this point. I love your common sense article and would love any tips or advice. Thank you.

    • Firstly, great to hear you’re looking at freelance writing, Rebecca. It can definitely be a great career choice!

      If there was one piece of advice I could give you, it would be exactly what this piece is all about – networking.

      You’ve obviously got the writing skills and I believe the challenge for you is working out how to transfer these to freelance writing so you can benefit from them financially, which is where blogs such as this should hopefully help!

  4. Hi, my name is Cassie, and I am stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching out. I am getting started in my writing career and learning, learning, learning, so your article really hit home. Sometimes I wish I had someone that would take me by the hand, say everything is going to be ok and that yes…you can do this. I know I can. I just have to. I can come up with a hundred things to do to keep me from it, but I really need to do this. Now.

    • Great to hear from you, Cassie and I don’t think you need any encouragement at all – you seem to know exactly what it is you’ve got to do and like you said, you just need to do it. Now!

  5. Thank you for your blog post. It has encouraged me to take part in commenting more on the blog posts I read and believe me I’ve read hundreds of blog posts. It’s time for a big change in the way I do things in regards to social media.
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    • Think of it like this, Nicole – every time you comment, that’s an opportunity for people to see your name and your thoughts, as well as offering a link back to your own content.

  6. Hi Dan, I have not made connections yet. What i do is write a little only for my blog, but I always enjoy reading blogs and commenting on some. It never hit me this freelance writing and I guess I must have to try this. Thanks for this informative article, that makes me realize something about freelance writing. Thanks for the idea…
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    • Glad to the piece was of use, Alex. It doesn’t matter how much you write and whether you do it professionally or not, networking can still prove to be extremely beneficial and worthwhile (and you’re likely to make some great friends, too!).

  7. Hi Dan, great post, I too spent a lot of time reading and did very little connecting, it does sound strange but it can still take someone a lot of effort to get out of their comfort zone and start connecting with people.

    But they must if they want to get results and once they do they will be amazed at what a network of help and potential that opens up in front of them.

    Cheers
    Andi
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    • Completely agree, Andi. What I would say is that networking online – for me, at least – is the easiest form of networking.

      You can think about what it is you want to say, change it around a few times and be confident that your comment truly reflects what you’re thinking. When you’re networking face-to-face, you have to think about what you’re going to say immediately, which can prove to be too much of a pressurised environment for many.

  8. Dan – Thank you for writing this. It was exactly what I needed to hear at this point of my career. I am an independent person who suffers from feelings of inadequacy. As a result, I talk myself out of commenting, sending e-mails, or re-tweeting. This post listed all the reasons for me to step out of my comfort zone into the relationship zone. Better – you said it in a way that made sense and motivated me to act (see this comment as proof). Thank you.

    • Fantastic to hear from you, Cindi!

      At the end of the day, what’s the worst that’s going to happen? Someone’s going to say your comment is wrong? That your own thoughts are different to theirs?

      We can’t please and get along with everyone, it’s just one of those facts of life (but saying that, you very rarely see ‘arguments’ online within the freelance writing industry!).

  9. Katherine
    Twitter:
    says:

    I took a two or three year break from freelance writing. During my break, one of the first things I did was delete my twitter account. When I decided to start writing again, the first thing I did was start another twitter account. I have some writer friends who kept in touch even when I quit interacting and I am completely grateful to them. Having a wonderful network of friends in the industry is definitely a must! I didn’t even realize how important it was until I read your post, it just happens naturally if you are interacting with people on the social sites and on their blogs.

    • Although I’m trying to use my Twitter account more, I don’t use it as much as I should or once did, almost solely because of a lack of time.

      However, I’ve still got some great contacts on the network and would always advise that you never delete your account – as I’m sure you’ve found, Katherine, it can prove to be just what you need when you’re looking for everything from advice through to inspiration.

  10. Great post, Dan — a wake up call.

    Many freelancers are introverted. We’re so busy doing what we’re doing that we forget that people hire people they know — or know of, because of some connection or other.

    We need to make connections before we need them and it’s not easy, but it can be fun, approached in the right way.
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    • That’s a great point, Angela. A lot of us freelance writers are naturally quite shy and retiring and see networking as a chore or a challenge – the truth is it can be one of the most enjoyable things you can do, as long as you view it as a positive activity and not a task.

  11. Great post as usual Dan – and you’ve highlighted something that’s very difficult to many freelance writers – but vital to our business – networking. I’m only just beginning to discover this, two years into my serious writing business. The power of having a network CANNOT be overlooked.

    But it’s so hard, because being writers, we’re often introverts. I know I am – add a disability and you’ve got a recipe for “awkward wallflower.” but the more you do it – both online and off – the easier it gets! :)
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    • Thanks for the comment, Steff. This blog post has actually made me realise how much I take being able to network effectively for granted. Thinking right back to when I first started, I was in the same boat as everyone else and it’s just something I’ve – fortunately – been able to develop over time.

      And it’s something I believe everyone else can do, too.

  12. Great post and a lot of positive comments too. I’ve been in a similar boat, of producing a lot of my own content and Tweeting around but not diving in so freely to blogs. Mostly because it takes so long to read them all I forget to comment – it’s easy to get distracted!

    I’d add, though, that live networking is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done since starting as a freelancer. Not just for the possibility of business, but for the chance to get out and meet people and do different things. You find such a variety of people when networking – I’ve encountered balloon salesmen and ladder specialists, to name a few. So much more exciting than when I was working in an office with half a dozen colleagues who didn’t run their own businesses.
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  13. andrew william says:

    Great article – thanks ! I took the leap into full-time freelance copywriting just this week and I’m sure I’ll find bits and pieces that I would add to your list in time.

    In fact, number 1: renting office space doesn’t necessarily make it easier for you to leave work behind. I thought it would, but having reached day three, I can categorically state that it’s going to take a LOT of discipline to resist the urge to work during the evenings and at weekends…!