If you chose a freelance writing career with the notion you’d spend your days solo, thoughts uninterrupted, blissfully typing away from a location of your choosing…well, you’re in part correct.
The caveat is — if you plan to make money writing — you’ll need to network effectively with writers and editors alike.
Rather than looking at other writers as competition, think of it like this: Writing is a team sport and your editor is the MVP.
Why it’s necessary for writers to network
Collectively, writers face a few difficult truths of the trade.
By connecting with like-minded writers, you’ll create a support system to share ideas, combat backlash from low-paying content mills and increase your visibility (seriously, there’s a lot of noise to cut through these days).
Equally as important is the fact that professional networking opens the door to more work. And more work equals more income.
For example, a prospect recently contacted me with a time-sensitive project proposal.
Unfortunately, I was booked out beyond her deadline. Rather than turn the prospect away empty handed, I was able to refer her to another writer in my network whom I trust and have good rapport with.
Alternatively, if a prospect approaches me with a project outside my area of expertise, I’ll turn to my network to find someone who does specialize in the project scope. Both scenarios are a win-win for the client and the writer.
But networking doesn’t stop among writers — writers must also network to sell ideas, services and products.
When it comes to selling, networking is key – as I’m sure any salesperson would agree.
Ultimately, it’s also the writer’s job to sell themselves, which leads to my next point.
How to build relationships with your editors
Let’s be real: Editors are the MVPs.
They work tirelessly to field pitches, ensure quality and provide feedback. They sift through the dredges to surface exceptional writing.
As writers, we’re not entitled to publication — we must first prove our capabilities. With the editor as gatekeeper, you can see why it’s important to build amicable relationships with the editors you pitch.
By establishing mutually respectful working relationships, you’ll find good editors challenge and encourage you, ultimately improving your skills and marketability as a writer.
At the end of the day, you’re responsible for selling your ideas and your ability to execute them.
Use a pitching strategy that works for you, not against you — you only get one shot to leave a good impression with the editor. Make it a positive one by being professional, sincere and efficient.
It’s worth noting that rejection comes with the territory of being a professional writer. There are a plethora of reasons your pitches will be rejected, but as it pertains to your relationships with editors, there are a couple guidelines to follow:
- Do thank the editor for his or her time, always. You can ask for feedback, should they have bandwidth to provide it — but don’t expect it.
- Don’t combat or speak ill of the editor. He or she is simply doing their job — don’t take rejection personally.
Acceptance is a win all around. Rejection is an opportunity to iterate on your idea and pitch it to another editor.
Rejection by one editor might just be the start of a new working relationship with another.
Through thick and thin, acceptance and rejection, a collaborative attitude is key. Whether you’re working with an editor or client, maintain a helpful mindset: focus on what you can do for the people you work with and how your written words will provide a solution.
Employ these tactics to expand your network
We’re fortunate to have countless resources and networking platforms at our fingertips today. While this does create digital noise, it also cultivates opportunity.
Consider these three tips for networking, collaborating and getting more leads:
1. Assemble your own all-star team
You already know the importance of networking with writers and editors. Now take it one step further by expanding your team to include disciplines related to your writing focus.
For example, if you’re a website copywriter, it’s valuable to have a network of web designers and developers who you can refer your clients to. Likewise, those designers and developers will refer their clients to you for copy. This also creates a streamlined experience for the client, who no longer needs to search for multiple vendors.
2. Join networks and get involved
All you need is an internet connection to find a group of peers in your niche. There’s no shortage of online communities and forums, including the Freelance Writers Den, Writers Cafe and Scribophile to name a few.
You can also find writerly camaraderie through social media groups such as The Write Life Community, Twitter’s #scriptchat and the Scriptmag Community. And of course, there might just be a writer’s group waiting for your down the (literal) street. Check your area for Meetup groups.
3. Participate in webinars (or host your own)
I recently had the chance to attend one of Carol Tice’s webinars about mistakes freelance writers make. During the webinar, I had the opportunity to join a conversation with writers from around the world and share questions, answers and ideas.
Take note: Carol herself — now a major advocate for freelance writers — has built a large community of writers by hosting webinars and providing resources and support. Consider starting your own community or hosting webinars based on your own unique experience.
As a freelance writer, it’s vital to be pleasurable to work with — else, there will be another freelancer who is (and therefore gets the gig).
Strive to be that person. By being an advocate for other freelancers, you’ll soon discover your support network is larger than you imagined.
What are your networking success stories? Share them in the comments!