As a reader, social media is one of my favorite ways to stay current on what my favorite publications are publishing. I’m constantly receiving notifications when articles I’m interested in are published.
As a writer, social media is also one of my favorite ways to connect with editors and businesses that might be looking for a freelance writer.
I’ve heard many times that, “Twitter is dead,” but I disagree.
Twitter is a treasure trove for writers looking to break into big publications.
Not sure where to start? I’ve spoken with a few writers and here are some tips to get you going.
1. Pick a few publications and editors to follow
Chances are, you have a list of publications you want to write for, or you have a list of publications within your niche.
The first step is following those publications on Twitter.
Following publications gives writers a sense of what those publications are publishing, what they are sharing, and how they are interacting with their following. This is great for research purposes and could help you come up with story ideas.
The next step is to follow the editors of those publications.
Check out the publications’ mastheads and check to see if the editors listed are on Twitter. Chances are, editors looking for pitches will have their contact information in their Twitter bio.
Want to write for a publication but stuck on a story idea?
“Twitter is great because editors regularly post about what kind of writing they are looking for,” said Supriya Venkatesan, a freelance writer with bylines in the likes of Redbook, The Washington Post, Playboy and more.
It doesn’t seem like it could be that easy, but it is. Here’s the proof:
Hannah Waters, editor at the Audubon Society, recently reached out on Twitter for pitches about how global warming affects birds and habitats.
2. Use the lists feature
With a platform like Twitter, information overload is easy to achieve.
This can lead to veering off in unintended directions or complete overwhelm.
“Social media will have you scrolling for hours,” states Yvelette Stines a writer with 10 years of freelance experience. She’s an advocate for using Twitter’s “lists” feature to streamline the feed.
Next to the “follow” button on a page, you’ll see the settings icon. Click on this button, and the option to “Add or remove from lists…” Clicking on this option gives you the ability to organize the accounts you follow. For example, every time I follow an editor, I place them in my “Editors” list.
You can access any list from your own profile page. Simply click on the “Lists” option and choose a list to look at. Clicking on a specified list will sort your feed so that it only shows the updates from the accounts in said list. When I click on my “Editors” list, I instantly have access to everything editors are tweeting about on Twitter.
3. Use the search bar
Since editors might be looking for something specific, and they might post that specific need on Twitter, the platform’s search bar is a great tool to use.
I typed in “Editor at” (quotation marks and all), hit enter, and then clicked on “People.” This instantly pulls up anyone with the words “editor at” in their bio. This is a quick, easy way to find editors to follow.
“Pitch Me” or #pitchme is another great option. When using the hashtag version, click on the “People” tab again and editors looking for pitches will show up.
4. Interact, interact, interact
Participation on Twitter is the key component to connecting with editors.
Interaction comes in a number of ways on this versatile platform. You can retweet interesting articles or tweets posted by an editor or publication. You can also comment on a tweet from someone. The goal is to transition into a conversation.
A couple years ago, I read a post on Medium by New York Times tech editor, Michael Roston.
The post resonated with me so I reached out to Roston on Twitter. My tweet to him was simple. At the time, I was working a non-writing desk job that was chewing away at my spirit. I needed some inspiration, and his article did the trick.
When I reached out on Twitter, I said:
— Nicole Graham (@NicoleG_86) June 29, 2015
That’s all it took to spark the conversation.
He replied back within minutes, telling me he was grateful I’d read and resonated with his post. I responded again, and so on. The conversation led to him giving me his email, which led to a couple of phone calls and me gaining an informal mentor in the business.
Venkatesan has had the same experience. “I responded to an editor’s tweets, retweeted what I found interesting, and when he tweeted that he needed an article on a specific subject, I responded. I got the gig, and I just signed a year-long contract with them.”
The moral of this social media story? Twitter is not dead. I repeat, Twitter is definitely not dead.
Take a second look at this platform, and get ready for the potential to open up a new world of writing opportunities.
Have you used Twitter to connect with editors or write for publications? How did it go?