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.

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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 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,” “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 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.

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How to Find Clients on LinkedIn | Prospecting Tips for Freelance Writers

If you’re a freelance writer you may have heard people recommend trying to find clients on LinkedIn. Perhaps in years past it wasn’t a big deal to let the sleeper social media network be a background app but those days are over. LinkedIn is now a viable option for securing excellent freelance writing gigs.

How to Find Clients on LinkedIn | Prospecting Tips for Freelance Writers

How to Find Clients on LinkedIn | Prospecting Tips for Freelance Writers

I see a lot of freelancers posting in networking groups about how they’re frustrated with low rates from traditional publications and don’t know where to look for those niche clients who pay well. For freelance writers searching for stable, corporate clients, LinkedIn may be their shining beacon of hope.

There are good reasons for freelancers to consider prospecting on LinkedIn. For example,

  • Popular freelance marketplace go-tos like job boards and content mills are competitive and there are more disappointing rates then there are decent ones
  • Writers are discovering more magazine contracts filled with rights grabs (extending to television and movies) and imndemnity clauses, which don’t favour the freelancer
  • Journalists are finding fewer job opportunities as newsrooms get smaller and dailies are shut down. As a result they’re moving into content marketing or busines to business writing

Here is what your LinkedIn profile needs

  • A professional and/or decent headshot
  • Accurate keywords describing what you do (nothing fancy or clever, what would your ideal client type into the search bar? Use those words)
  • A descriptive summary using keywords that will resonate with your ideal client (What problems do you solve? How can you help?)
  • Plain language—people are here to do business
  • Bonus: the more niche, the better

How to use LinkedIn to find clients

Before you do anything, figure out how the platform works and learn the conventions. I’ve already mentioned people come here to do business but it goes deeper than that. Look at what type of articles and other content people publish. Pay attention to the style of comments people leave. And notice the conversations happening. They’re unique to this platform so make sure you’re aware of platform expectations.

Once you have a handle on the decorum, consider publishing a few articles on LinkedIn Publisher related to your area of expertise. These should be targeted at your ideal client and solve a problem they’re having.

Now you’re ready to start connecting

Connection type 1: search the platform for your ideal clients.

Oh, and make sure you have a good idea of who you’re looking for.

For example, if you’re prospecting for mid-level IT businesses, who do you need to connect with in the company? A marketing manager? If you’re interested in publishing in a niche trade magazine perhaps you’ll look for an editor. Narrowing your search will help you focus on the best possible matches and will streamline your efforts.

Basically, think of common titles your market would use to describe themselves (CEO, accountant, sales manager, etc.) and use those when searching.

When you’re clear on your prospect then you can look for these people either using the LinkedIn Advanced Search or LinkedIn Groups.

Once you find people who fit your current client focus, reach out and request a connection. Make sure to add a personalized message to your request but don’t pitch anything yet. You’re just networking at this point.

These people may or may not accept your requests but for the ones who do, send a thank-you message and ask a question. But still, no pitching. All you’re doing here is getting to know them a bit. Small talk. You could see if they work with freelance writers but I’d even be careful jumping into that question right away.

If the conversation progresses and the manager/editor/prospect wants to see more this is the time to send your Letter of Introduction (LOI).

Want to learn more about LOIs? I recommend reading Jennifer Goforth Gregory’s blog.

Connection type 2: Connect with people who have viewed your profile.

LinkedIn lets you know who has viewed you profile. Pay attention to this! If the person who viewed your profile seems like a good fit, then send them a connection request with a personalized note.

This more or less follows the same process as above but I might be a little more casual at first, asking questions like what they’re working on these days and what they’re up to in general.

But if it seems like they could use a freelance writer then jump back into business mode and get your LOI ready and send it over.

Regular prospecting on LinkedIn can take as little as 15 minutes per day using the free version where you send a few connection request, comment on threads or post articles. But if it becomes an important client source you may want to consider upgrading your account to increase your search and messaging credits, as well as other perks.

If you're a freelance writer you may have heard people recommend trying to find clients on LinkedIn. And there are good reasons, it's time to get on board.

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.

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Writing Contests and Why You Should Consider Entering

Entering writing contests is good practice for writers. And the cash prizes and publication are nice too.

Writing Contests

Writing contests and why you should consider entering

While you may not feel like you have time to be dallying around entering writing contests there are some good reasons to do so, aside from money and publication. First, if it’s the right contest, it can give you exposure to your future agent, editor or publisher. Second, writing to deadline and according to a set of guidelines keeps you sharp. Third, if you win you can say “award-winning writer” on stuff. I mean, isn’t that worth the entry fee alone?

Of course there are scams out there so you do need to vet each contest and check things like the rules and who’s judging. You also want to make sure the entry fee is reasonable and you’re not signing away all your rights by entering the contest. But once you feel like it’s on the up-and-up then enter with abandon!

Where to find writing contests

Here are a few of my favourite stops when looking for new writing contests to enter.

  • Poets & Writers has a searchable database of writing contests, which includes any creative writing contests they’ve published in their magazine during the past year. These contests are vetted before being entered into the database so it’s a trustworthy resource
  • The Writer is a wealth of resources for writers and keeps an up-to-date contest listing on their website. You can even join their mailing lists where they’ll send the contest details to you so you don’t miss a thing
  • Submittable has a great weekly roundup of publishing and journalism news (Called Submishmash Weekly) and, of course, up-to-date contest listings. I find a lot of great opportunities here. And you can sign up for their weekly round up too, which saves you having to remember to check for updates
  • Writer’s Digest has an updated contest listing for any Writer’s Digest Contest. They’re listed from soonest submission deadline to latest and cover a wide range of writing contests
  • If you’re looking for Canadian writing contests Heather McLeod has a nice roundup of listings organized by date. These are recurring contests so check the links for updated details
  • Speaking of Canadian writing contests, CBC Books also put together a guide to writing prizes for Canadians. Organized into fiction, non-fiction and poetry, there are tons of recurring contests listed and this is a post worth bookmarking
  • Writers Write has a small list of upcoming contests for fiction and poetry writers. Listings go till the end of the year so it’s worth checking out
  • Reedsy has a robust contest search, which is updated each week. Search by genre, location and sort by entry fee or prize money

Conclusion

I hope you can find awesome writing contests to enter this year! But if checking out websites is still too much to ask I have one more place you can go to find great contests—I’ve created a Writing Jobs and Contests Twitter List. All you have to do is follow the list and check it every now and then. I mean, you’re on Twitter, right?

While you may not feel like you have time to be dallying around entering writing contests there are some good reasons to do so, like money and publication.

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 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
While you may not feel like you have time to be dallying around entering writing contests there are some good reasons to do so, aside from money and publication. First, if it's the right contest, it can give you exposure to your future agent, editor or publisher. Second, writing to deadline and according to a set of guidelines keeps you sharp. Third, if you win you can say "award-winning writer" on stuff. I mean, isn't that worth the entry fee alone?

Facebook Group Tips | Avoiding the Drama

These Facebook Group tips will help you network without going down the drama rabbit hole. Why would you want to participate in groups? They’re an interesting ecosystem within the social media behemoth. For example, many successful Facebook Groups provide small, safe spaces for likeminded individuals to connect. And many groups have the added benefit of being secret or private, so your group activities aren’t revealed to your friends or followers.

Facebook Group Tips | Avoiding the Drama

Facebook Group Tips

Networking is a critical aspect of success in the freelance writing world. Because many writers are also introverts, the idea of networking can seem either overwhelming or needless. But those who have joined healthy writing groups, they understand the power of networking and collaborating with likeminded people. In this, you discover your tribe and realize you’re not so alone afterall.

See also: Networking Tips for Introverted Writers

While in-person groups can be amazing, the isolated nature of the writing life doesn’t always support regular attendance. That’s where online networking come in. With more than a billion active users, Facebook is an easy place to find community and networking opportunities. But if you’ve joined groups before, you may understand their potential volitility. These Facebook Groups tips are intended to help freelance writers make the most out of networking while avoiding the drama.

Groups versus Pages

Before we get into the Facebook Group tips let’s do a quick overview of the difference between groups and pages. If you have a business people assume you have a Facebook Page. This is a convenience for the general public and can function, in its simplest form, as a business card directing prospects to your website or informing them of how to contact you. Page owners can leverage their pages and use them like a community but this takes a lot of effort and dedication, which is why groups may be a better option for interacting with your followers and fans. Having a Facebook Page is also required if you want to run Facebook ads, which is something to consider if you’re ready to invest in online prospecting. But we’ll get to that another time.

A Facebook Group is less linear than a page and the group members can have the ability to create content and carry on discussions without the administrator’s approval. Author Kirsten Oliphant describes groups as “a web, where connections don’t have to move in a linear way from the creator at the center.” Groups can be about anything (a person, a topic, a website, whatever) and, for many, are an important connection hub for a writer’s networking efforts.

Facebook Groups tips for survival

While a Facebook Page’s success is tied to the number of likes and reach, a Facebook Group can be considered successful even if it’s small. A group’s engagement and activity is what matters. For some freelancers, creating and moderating a Facebook group make sense but for many others, joining groups is enough.

We’re focusing on how to behave in other people’s groups today since that’s where the majority of freelance writers exist. So here we go.

When joining other people’s groups, here are a few things to keep in mind

  • Remember, this isn’t your group so don’t act like it is (if you don’t like it, create your own)
  • Pay attention to the group’s rules and abide by them. If the group rules say don’t share anything from them group then really don’t share anything. If the rules say don’t promote yourself then really don’t drop links and brag your bylines. Respect the group rules
  • Be kind, genuine and helpful—listen before you speak, if you have a negative emotional reaction to a topic or post don’t respond right away (avoid becoming an Internet troll!)
  • Make connections, yes. But don’t immediately try and sell something (that’s not how this works). Make sure you’re in these groups for the right reasons or this won’t be a positive experience for you
  • Watch for ways you can contribute to the group, don’t just take. Maybe you can’t participate in every discussion but if there is a question or topic you know something about, add a tip or two

While these general Facebook Group tips will keep you in good standing my biggest tip is this. Try and add value to the group rather than dissension. There are so many times I see a beautiful group get sidelined by a disagreement where the moderator doesn’t step in soon enough and the discussion gets out of hand. When groups go down this route it stops being safe and people become afraid to voice their opinion, lest they get trolled or jumped on.

If you see this happening in one of your groups there are a few things you can do.

  • Avoid the drama. Consider muting the thread or group for a few days until the storm blows over
  • There is a chance the group moderator hasn’t seen the drama unfolding so if you think this is the case tag the person in the thread to draw their attention to it
  • Maybe the group is heading down this new, more volitile direction. If it stops feeling like a safe space to you or you feel like it’s just attracting distracting, unhealthy drama then consider leaving the group
  • As much as you can, avoid joining in the debate. In my experience, good doesn’t seem to come from emotional social media back-and-forths

For those looking for community, Facebook Groups can be an excellent option.

When searching for new groups to join, ask your friends and colleagues what groups they recommend first. If you do a general search, keep in mind private groups will more often be safer than public groups. This is because anyone can join a public group but you have to be approved to join a private group. Look for groups that mirror your interests, or are moderated by people you admire. And if you do join a group and it’s not a good fit, don’t feel bad leaving. Streamline your group experience and only stay in the groups you know you’ll be active in.

These Facebook Group tips will help you network without going down the drama rabbit hole. Why would you want to participate in groups? They're an interesting ecosystem within the social media behemoth. For example, many successful Facebook Groups provide small, safe spaces for likeminded individuals to connect. And many groups have the added benefit of being secret or private, so your group activities aren't revealed to your friends or followers.

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 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