How to Network Your Way Into a Successful Writing Career

How to Network Your Way Into a Successful Writing Career

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.

writing career

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!

Filed Under: Craft, Freelancing
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22 comments

  • Great article, thank you for sharing, Erika! I’ve recently started going to networking groups in my area and was surprised by how many people wanted to meet with me or get my card. If you write for businesses, you might want to check out some networking meetups. They all know they need a blogger or copywriter, but there aren’t many of those showing up at the networking meetings!

  • Rachel says:

    I have decided that my best networking sites–for now–are Twitter and LinkedIn. Good way to find freelancing work. Medium may have potential, but from what I can see it mainly attracts extremely left-wing political idealists/activists. Not my cup of tea and not sure it would be a good site for business (anti-capitalist.) Probably best for journalists. I only use Facebook for social and personal connections. If I haven’t met you at least a handful of times offline I won’t friend you. If I ever publish a book, I will put up a Fanpage though. My best friends will want to buy the book.

    • I haven’t found Medium to be that narrow Rachel! There are writers with varied backgrounds, political views, and interests, including many entrepreneurs! You can follow publications and writers you enjoy, and post your own stories, which may be read by potential clients. I like Medium 🙂

  • Dom says:

    Thank you for this post. Very interesting.
    Last year a friend of mine (my former leadership coach) started a blog and invited me as guest author. Since then, I have been sharing my experience, insights and suggestions on the topic. Seing people sharing my posts and sending me email to thank and stated that has helped them somehow motivated me to think of doing more and possibly write a book (next year project). I am brazilian but live in London. Thinking of having the right network, where should i start in pursuit of that/to accomplish my goal?

    • Dom says:

      Sorry for the typos 🙂

    • Hi, Dom! Thank you for the kind words. It’s a great feeling to know your writing has helped others, isn’t it? I haven’t yet published a book myself, but The Write Life has a lot of great resources for publishing if you search the archives. In addition to the online communities I’ve mentioned in this article, I’d also recommend using LinkedIn for networking with others in your industry. Contributing articles to online publications is another great way to get your name out there, earn links to your site, and promote your work/book. Just avoid being overly self-promotional—instead, focus on becoming a thought leader and the right audience will find you. Hope this helps!

  • Storm says:

    Seems like every time I read a great article, your name is at the very bottom of it. Thanks for the read! There are some great ideas in here!

  • Hey Erika! Thanks so much for this. I found this website by accident, looking into travel writing, and tripped across your piece. I have been writing (alone and for myself really) for years, and am just now trying to break into paid freelance writing. I just built my own website a month ago and have been learning on the go since then. I got my first paid gig through Upwork as a content writer for a blog. I started a Facebook group to go with my site, I went public on Instagram, and I joined Twitter. Phew. It has been a whirlwind month or so. I love that the focus of your article is being pleasant and collaborating because this is what I have found so far. Working together, supporting each other, lifting each other up, is essential in a business that not only requests readership but also requires editors and recommendations. Thanks so much!

    • Hi, Shanna! You’re very welcome—I’m so glad you’re here! TWL is a great resource for writers of all types. And congrats on getting your website and social media set-up—I know how daunting a task it can be with so many moving pieces (I’ve been there, too). Finding online communities is such a great way to give and receive creative support 🙂

  • Kate says:

    Thanks, Erika!
    I am on Linkedin, but never thought to use it to get freelance work. Is there a particular group within Linkedin where I could pitch? I have written 2 books about craft beer, and I write about that topic, but I am a true foodie and a new grandparent. I’d like to write about all of those. Thanks! Kate

    • Hi, Kate! I’ve had success with varying methods on LinkedIn. First, make sure you optimize your profile with your most relevant experience and links to your best work. Think of it like a public resume. I’ve had a couple people find my articles through LinkedIn and contact me to write for them that way. LinkedIn is also useful for discovering editors and colleagues who are somehow connected to your existed network. In this case, I’ve used InMail to reach out and introduce myself and (if appropriate) pitch an idea or ask for an introduction. Lastly, if you’re working on building a portfolio and don’t yet have a blog, you can use LinkedIn Pulse to get your writing out there. Just keep in mind who your LinkedIn audience is, as it’s often more professional and business-oriented than other social networks.

      There’s actually an article on TWL about finding jobs with LinkedIn, which might help provide additional tips: https://thewritelife.com/use-linkedin-to-find-writing-jobs/

      Hope that helps and wishing you the best!

  • Amber Roshay says:

    Thanks aerika for the great article that reminded me of the importance of collaboration. I do have a question connected to pitching editors. I’m a freelance writer on a small scale. It’s not my main income as I’m an instructor at a university. I usually write my articles first and then try to sell them. Would you recommend pitching first? Do you think a more established writer is better off pitching? Thanks!

  • Hi Erika,

    This is a great article! I have always loved writing and have been writing online articles for years on my blog and via HubPages.com. I have found awesome writing groups on both LinkedIn and Facebook for networking. I’m working on novel and love writing short stories too!

    Last year I got more serious, joined a writers critique group and took an online course. I decided to take the plunge this year and start self-publishing. My first book is on Amazon! For starters I’m self-publishing some computer how-to books, and then I’ll move to fiction. It’s a lot of fun! I’m running a book giveaway for fun, please take a look:

    https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e7570d5b3ad845ee

    Cheers and All the Best To You!
    Amelia Griggs

  • Megan says:

    Hi! I really enjoyed your article. Do you have any advice on how to network for Writing-Center tutors?

    • Thanks, Megan! I’m not too familiar with writing-centers, but I bet you can find more info through local universities and online groups. Do you have any colleagues who are active in related groups?

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