How to Find Hashtags: Tips and Tricks to Gain Followers

How to find hashtags, how to use hashtags, what are hashtags and everything in between. Plus a free download!

How to Find Hashtags: Tips and Tricks to Gain Followers

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How to find hashtags: tips and tricks to gain followers

This is a guide for how to find hashtags and how to use hashtags to grow your audience. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you.

Up until 2007 I only knew of # as “pound sign.” Then one day, when I was living in England, I was given a gate code.

"It's 4-8-6-3-hash."

Wait, what?

Maybe it was a button called hash. I don’t know, maybe it’s a British thing.

The five minutes at the gate staring for the hash button was one of the longest, most awkward feeling I’ve had in some time. I can’t remember how I got out through the gate in the end, maybe someone came over and showed me which button was hash. Sigh. Canadians, amiright!?

Fast forward a few years and everyone now knows what # means. We just don’t know how to find hashtags

OK maybe my wording isn’t quite right. We see hashtags everywhere but we don’t know which ones to use or how to use them right. I know this because I’ve been to a bazillion social media events and that question comes up every time.

And I’ve heard all sorts of answers to the question. All sorts. No wonder everyone’s so confused. When there’s a cloud at the pulpit there’s a fog in the pew kind of thing. Blind leading the blind. Oh, and what about hashtag strategy?

Gah.

Perhaps you’re getting the sense we have a lot to cover here. You would be correct. This is going to be at least a four-part series.

Here’s how I see it going

But we could go deeper.

First, what are hashtags?

A hashtag is a word or phrase used on a social media platform preceded by a hash or pound sign (#)

That’s it. And I know if you see them around and don’t use them much you are thinking “why would I have to find hashtags? Anything’s a hashtag. #hashtag is a hashtag.

Yes. But if you’re trying to grow your audience on social media using the right hashtags in the right way can be a key strategy to growth. SO. How do you find those hashtags?

Hashtags are essential because when used properly, you gain targeted and engaged followers.

How to find hashtags

OK, so yes you can make up your own hashtags, but if you’re looking for engagement or want others to discover you, then you should use hashtags other people in your target audience are using. And don’t get me wrong, you can use your own branded hashtags but that is a whole other subject. Right now let’s focus on helping people find you slash your great content by using the right hashtags.


Here are two resources to check out

Hashtagger

There are lots of hashtag discovery apps, but this is the one I like for finding popular hashtags around a certain word or phrase when I’m on the go. As in, I’m in the middle of posting and I need hashtags! The app is minimalist—your only option is to search for hashtags. You do this by typing in a word, pressing search, then selecting the hashtags from the list. You can copy up to 30 then paste them all at once into your post or comment on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.

NOTE: This app is no longer available in the Canadian iTunes store so I no longer use it but I think it’s still available in the US iTunes store.

Hastagify.me

When I’m more organized this is a fun site to use. You can type in words to the search bar and it displays the top hashtags using fancy charts. How fun!

When you hover over the results it also displays popularity and correlation to your original search term. This is a great way to research hashtags ahead of time.

Fun!


Want 125 writing-related hashtags? They’re my gift to you, free in my resource library. Pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password.

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One last comment about hashtags and yes, I’m repeating myself because I’ve heard this push back SO MANY TIMES. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you. So yes, go ahead and #makeupyourown but don’t be surprised if nothing happens.

Next time, I’ll outline using hashtags for Instagram because there are a lot of rules to follow and it can be confusing!

Other Social Media Articles

This is a guide to finding hashtags to grow your audience. How to find hashtags, how to use hashtags, what are hashtags, and everything in between.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
This is a guide to finding hashtags to grow your audience. How to find hashtags, how to use hashtags, what are hashtags, and everything in between.

Overcome the Fear of Marketing Yourself | 3 Tips

Are you wondering how to overcome your fear of marketing? Or perhaps you’re wondering if you need to market since you have such a strong aversion to it? Here’s the truth: if you want to make money from your writing, you do need to embrace marketing.

Overcome the Fear of Marketing Yourself | 3 Tips

Building relationships and telling stories

The good news is, marketing isn’t as scary as you think it is. Serious! I know we get all spinny about the concept of pitching ourselves but at its core, marketing is building relationships and telling stories. Good marketing is crafting those stories for a specific person, a person who wants exactly what you’re offering.

Afraid of Marketing? Fearful of promoting yourself? The best way I know how to overcome the fear of marketing yourself is to focus on helping people and to weave in stories.

Your marketing efforts are most effective when you have a consistent strategy targeted at your ideal clients, readers or customers. When these are aligned you won’t feel like you’re marketing, just connecting with likeminded souls.

Three tips for overcoming your fear of marketing

There are many reasons people feel afraid of promoting themselves or their freelance business and some of them are justified. Will you be rejected? Very probably. It’s part of the game. Will people criticise you? Yeah, they will. Will you fail? Maybe, yes. These things all could and probably will happen. But you don’t have to let it hold you back.

Tip 1: In order to be an effective marketer you need to identify your fears and move past imposter syndrome. Much of our fear is rooted in our mindset and worst-case scenarios. To thrive as a freelance writer (or any kind of freelancer, entrepreneur or small business owner), it’s important to accept our strengths and weaknesses, understand who we serve and what we bring to the table and push forward with confidence—even if we dont’ have all the answers.

Tip 2: Worried you’ll be seen as a spammer? Then don’t be a spammer. Be genuine, offer real value, build relationships and be a human. If you’re only connecting with people in order to ask for or get something from them then you’re doing it wrong. The key here? Make real connections but don’t avoid promoting yourself when the timing is right. Find a tactful way to weave it into your interactions.

Bonus: Here are three marketing ideas for writers who hate marketing

My final tip for overcoming your fear of marketing

Tip 3: Focus on the benefits working with you brings to your clients. Take a little time to figure out why your ideal customers or clients would want to do business with you. What do you bring to the table? If you can get clear on this, you’ll have a much easier time prospecting and reaching out to clients. Articulate the problem you’re ideal clients have, how you can help them and what the benefits of working with you are.

And remember, you don’t need to know everything about your topic or be the world’s leading expert in your niche. You just need to be a couple steps ahead of your clients.

An example from my life

Most of my professional marketing experience comes from the non-profit world where I hear a lot about how people are afraid to ask for money. In a lot of ways fundraising parallels marketing and even sales. Reaching out and asking for something from someone who might say no (or, worse yet, will be offended at your asking!) is scary.

But here’s the thing, when you have a wonderful service or product or cause you have a duty to let people know about it. If it will benefit them in any way, they have a right to know. Sure, they may turn down your request, that’s their decision to make. Your job as the marketer (or fundraiser, or sales person) is to let them know about it. That’s all.

If you can’t stand behind the product, service or organization you’re pitching then this is a different problem, one I’m not dealing with today. But if you do believe in what you’re selling then it’s time to move past your fear of marketing and jump ahead in your business.

Need a bit more? Rachel wrote a great article on this topic I think you’ll love.

Are you wondering how to overcome your fear of marketing? Or perhaps you're wondering if you need to market since you have such a strong aversion to it? Here's the truth: if you want to make money from your writing, you do need to embrace marketing.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Copywriter: Writer, Marketer and Persuader All in One

If you’re new to writing you may not have considered copywriter as a way to break into the industry. Copywriting is as challenging as it is interesting and most writers overlook it in favour of more traditional publishing roads.

Become a freelance copywriter

But wait, what’s a copywriter?

If you think about copywriting as writing for business then you’ll have it just about right. A copywriter is the person who comes up with slogans, billboards, traditional media ads and just about any other kind of sales copy (words) you can think of.

And what about all the words that go on websites? And those business blogs everyone has these days? Yup, a copywriter is behind it.

Because uncredited copy is everywhere, it’s easy to miss it as writing. For people just getting started in writing, they may not even consider this type of writing as an option because it seems so mysterious.

Sure, it’s not as recognizable as, say, a published author credit or a byline in a newspaper or magazine but it certainly pays the bills.

The difference between copywriting and other types of writing

When most people think about writing they think of fiction and non-fiction. But of course there is so much more below the surface. Fiction breaks down into endless genres while non-fiction branches into journalism, prescriptive, self-help, biography, memoir and more.

Copywriting falls into the non-fiction camp and champions the art of persuasion. AKA rhetoric. In general, a copywriter’s job is to persuade someone to take an action be it purchasing a product, signing up for an email list or clicking on a link.

You’ll find copywriters within marketing departments or working for advertising agencies or public relations firms. And most freelance writers you meet are copywriters who are tired to explaining to people what copywriters do so they default to the generic “writer.”

Copywriter: Freelancer, Marketer, Writer

How copywriting works

If you watched Mad Men then you have some idea of how copywriting fits into the larger world of sales and marketing.

In general, they’ll start with a brief from a client or brand explaining what problem their product or service is trying to solve and who will benefit from it. They may have meetings with art directors or graphic designers to brainstorm concepts. And they may meet with the company to learn more.

Once there’s a firm concept in place, the copywriter will then create the different deliverables. Let’s say this project is an advertising campaign for a toy company who wants to launch the next big Christmas gift hit. The copywriter would look at all the different aspects of the campaign (say for example, television ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, social media posts, email blasts, etc.) and create the written components.

Become a freelance copywriter

To get started as a copywriter there isn’t any sort of standardized degree or certification. You just start.

Of course, this is easier said than done.

In order to get work you need to showcase your skills. If you have a portfolio, great. If not, then get writing. Start a blog or devote yourself to some other form of content marketing to get your name out there.

If you don’t have skills, consider working at an agency. There are a couple benefits here, you’ll gain experience and learn how the industry works. There are a lot of agencies and they all need writers. Browse LinkedIn and look for terms like “media,” “communications,” “marketing,” etc. From there figure out which ones are hiring and start applying.

Sure, copywriting may not be as glamorous as publishing in a literary journal but if you can find the right clients it can afford you a decent living. It might be tricky to explain to other what you do, but it won’t matter if you fall in love with the art of copy.

If you're new to writing you may not have considered copywriter as a way to break into the industry. Copywriting is as challenging as it is interesting and most writers overlook it.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Pinterest Tips for Freelance Writers

It took a long time in my writing journey before I asked a fellow blogger for some Pinterest tips. Now that I understand the platform? PURE MAGIC.

Pinterest Tips for Freelance Writers: Marketing, Promotion, Research

I don’t know why I hesitated other than it didn’t seem like a fit and I didn’t get it. Other bloggers love Pinteret. Like SO much. But since I don’t keep a lifestyle blog, I didn’t think there was any point. I mean, isn’t it just recipes and make-up tutorials?

NOPE.

My perspective shifted after I met Shawna, a minimalist blogger and life coach over at Simple on Purpose. She shared about how her business and blog took off after one Pin went viral.

ONE. PIN.

So when the opportunity came, I asked Shawna to review my profile and give me Pinterest tips to improve my sad attempt at…what was I trying to do anyway? She obliged and provided me with a report FILLED with suggestions. It was 1,000 words long, I counted.

Yes, I had my work cut out for me, and it was just the beginning.

My Pinterest mindset shift

I’ll spare you the details of how much spring cleaning I had to do on my Pinterest account. Suffice to say it would have been easier to start from scratch. Because I didn’t know what I was doing I hadn’t done anything right.

Up until this point I had looked at Pinterest as somewhere to go when you’re looking for costume ideas or DIY projects. But that’s a Pinterest consumer. A Pinterest content creator looks at the platform in a different way.

A content creator looks at the platform and creates appropriate Pins by pairing visually-appealing vertical images with pleasing fonts and a keyword-optimized description. But she doesn’t stop there.

A good content creator also develops a visual brand to stand out from the Pinterest noise and restrains her public pinning to the topics she writes about.

Here’s the most important thing you need to understand: Pinterest is not a social network, it’s a search engine.

Searching for content on Pinterest is a wonderful exercise but Pins also show up as results on all other search engines.

Did you catch that?

If your content is performing well on Pinterest, it may also show up as an image search result in Google.

It then follows that being active and pinning the right content on Pinterest will increase your reach and bring your ideal clients to you.

Pinterest tips for freelance writers

OK, let’s dive in. I’m going to focus on the basics of setting up your Pinterest profile and pinning as a freelance writer. You can go deep with Pinterest strategy and I’ll be honest, I’m not there yet. While I’m happy with the results I’m seeing from Pinterest, I’m still finding my footing.

What I am certain of is Pinterest is a fabulous marketing tool that many freelance writers overlook. Because most freelancers are investing their marketing time elsewhere, this is a great opportunity to maximize your return on Pinterest.

When you’re ready to use Pinterest for promoting your freelance writing business start with your profile

  • Does your user name/handle reflect your business? If not change it
  • Is your profile photo an image of you? If not update it
  • Does your “about me” description talk about what you do and who you serve? If not, rewrite it
  • Are your boards named using keywords related to your business or your niche? Update the ones you can and set the others to secret
  • Have you included a link to your website? If not add it

Feeling ready to start Pinning?

Before you dive in, pinning images from across the Internet remember you are a content creator now. So it’s time to create pins for Pinterest.

Think about what your prospects or ideal readers are searching for on Pinterest. What are the words they’re using? What problems are they trying to solve? Think about what type of images they’ll be drawn to and the types of topics they’ll be interested in.

Brainstorming and researching may take some time but after you spend some time on the platform you’ll get a feel for how it works and which pins work best for your audience and why.

In general, you want to pin things your ideal clients will:

  • Be drawn to
  • Want to read
  • Find helpful
  • Repin
  • Pay attention to

This doesn’t have to be 100 per cent your own content but you should definitely work on adding as much as you can to the platform. Get your writing in circulation!

Pinterest Tips Pin Anatomy
This pin is from the post How to Create a Writing Schedule if you want to see it for yourself.

Pinterest tips: image size

The images that perform best on Pinterest are vertical, around 600 x 900 pixels. You can test the sizes out of course (and the rules do change from time to time) but in general, try and stick to vertical rather than horizontal images. If you JUST CANNOT then square images are also acceptable.

Pinterest tips: create your own Pinterest images using Canva

Creating images specifically for PInterset ensures your image will put its best foot forward on the platform.

  • Make sure to use a visually-pleasing image (light images tend to perform better than dark images)
  • Overlay branding elements like your website or logo
  • Include your main keywords as a text overlay on the image (and repeat your keywords in the description)
  • Bonus tip: enable rich pins (if you’re lost, check out the video below from Redefining Mom on how to do this)

One thing to consider is if you want to pin a lot then you may need to create more content on your website to link to. Another idea, pin your samples to a Pinterest board. Here’s my Writing Portfolio as an example. And yes, I’m customing-making most of those pins.

Even if you aren’t ready to pin you can still use Pinterest in a few interesting ways

  • Discover potential clients who are using the platform
  • Do keyword research using Pinterest search
  • Brainstorm pitch ideas by finding topics related to your niche

I know I already said this but I just think Pinterest is such a great opportunity. So many writers overlook it because they don’t understand the platform or they don’t believe their prospects are there. But with 175 million users…there’s a good chance your ideal clients are at least somewhat active on Pinterest.

And wouldn’t it be great to show up as the answer to their question?

I think so!

It took a long time in my writing journey before I asked a fellow blogger for some Pinterest tips. I don't know why I hesitated other than it didn't seem like a fit. Now that I understand how to use it? MAGIC. Pinterest is revolutionizing my website and my opinion has changed. To say the least.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required

Literary Citizenship and Why the Writing Industry Needs It

Literary citizenship is a fancy term for forming professional networking relationships. Maybe it’s fancy because it’s literary. Or maybe it’s a jargony-industry term but I had no idea what this was until a few months ago.

Literary Citizenship and Why Writers Need It

Literary citizenship

First of all, this isn’t a new term. I just didn’t know it. I learned about it when I read Jane Friedman’s book The Business of Being a Writer. She talks about it as a platform-building tool (a key aspect of book marketing these days) and how some in the MFA/literary community are against it. Their beef? Some writers and authors believe literary citizenship to be a scheme. You know, by traditional publishers to get authors to do all of their own marketing.

While this may be true to some extent, it’s also a hard reality of the industry. Yes, publishers used to help more with marketing than they do now. Yes, many publishers require non-fiction authors to have massive platforms or name recognition. And yes, it’s a tough slog. Deal with it.

Although I didn’t know the term “literary citizenship” I certainly learned about it early in my freelance career. I just called it different names. Things like “investing in relationships.” Or, “finding ways to help people.” And “becoming a part of the community.” And while there is of course balance needed in doing your own work and supporting other writers and outlets, it has been the key to my freelance writing growing the way it has.

Approach your writing career with an abundance mindset

One reason I love this idea is because it approaches the writing industry with a collaborative attitude, rather than a competitive one. By practicing literary citizenship you’re, in essence, saying, “I’m not threatened by other writers finding success, in fact I’m happy to support them on their journey!”

An abundance mindset is when we look at other writers and authors with an “there is enough space for everyone” attitude. This approach believes whether it’s money, publishing deals, readers or clients, the pie is big enough to go around. Litearary citizenship gives us a chance to engage in a positve way with likeminded people and grow in our craft.

When we look at others with a scarcity mindset then we will hold back from connecting or helping. We perceive every success as something stolen from us and every interaction will be combative and negative.

No writer is an island. We need each other.

How to practice literary citizenship

There are many ways to practice literary citizenship. In general you want to find ways to support the outlets you want to see your work showcased in and the writers in that community.

For some people this means joining a professional association or writing group and volunteering their time by running programs or mentoring writers further behind in the journey.

For others it means writing book reviews and posting them on their website.

Literary citizenship for me largely means sharing writing job opportunities, writing contests and helpful articles written by freelance writers on Twitter.

The big idea behind literary citizenship is the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It’s about contributing to and supporting your community and remembering no one is alone in the writing world. Find ways to be generous, approach the industry with an abundance mindset and treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Literary citizenship is a fancy term for forming professional networking relationships. Maybe it's a jargony-industry term but it's a great tip for writers!

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn. And I want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required